Word Play – Check Out This Rap

Check out “Rainbow In The Dark” – Das Racist – if you like wordplay and odd allusions. It doesn’t start off well (or it’s a really weird start, depending on your point of view), but the song is short, and the group is amazing.

Click here for the Youtube music video (to watch and listen) – trust me, it’s worth it.

Lyrics below:

I’m at the White Castle
(I don’t see you here, dog)
Tiny-ass hamburgers, tiny-ass cheeseburgers
Tiny-ass chicken sandwiches
It’s outlandish, kid
Ma trying to speak to the kid
In Spanish, kid
Like “¿Que tu quieres?”
I’m like “where is the bathroom?
I hella gotta piss, where’s the bathroom?”
Ask whom the bell tolls for
Hey, yo, where you get this place from, the hellhole store?

I’m in the building
Building will Belding
Ask for whom the bell rings (DR)
Something like a neo-rap Zach attack
Finna spark an L and have myself a Big Mac attack
Known to rock the flyest shit and eat the best pizza
Charge that shit to Mastercard, already owe Visa
Catch me drinkin’ lean in Italy like I was Pisa
We could eat the flyest cave-aged cheese for sheez, ma

Yeah, we could eat Gruyere
As if we care
We could eat Roquefort
Or we could just kick it like Rockports
In the periphery of Little Sicily little did she know I’m tickling boo she so giggly
Catch me solving mysteries like Wikipedia Brown
It’s the future get down
We make a sound even if nobody’s around

Like a tree or the tears of a clown
Yo, I’m afraid of clowns, I’m afraid of small towns
Positive energy is something like I’m afraid of all frowns
Catch me at the crib getting light to Jeff Mangum
It’s fun to do bad things like rhyme about handguns
If any problem pop off
I’ll Joe Pesci any fool while drinking that Popov
That’s cause I’m a Goodfella
Stay up out the hood hella much now
But punch clowns if they touch down
While I’m eating lunch now
While I’m eating a burger
Metaphysical spiritual lyrical murder

The ill ’96 manifestible third eye
Abstract vegan backpack skateboard et cetera
Rap hella much in a busted ass Jetta with Coretta Scott King
Rap bridge
On a duet with T-Pain and Stephen Hawking
I’m not joking, stop jocking, stop talking
Shut up, hush up
Please, shut the fuck up
Shut up, dude, shut up
Das Racist is the new Kool G Rap
Peep us at the Grammys
We’d like to thank G-chat
We’d like to thank weed rap
The best rapper’s B Real
Jokes, it’s us, come on, be real
Second Latin rapper to like the Beatles
But on the real they swear I’m blacker than Cheadle
Like Don King playing Donkey Kong Country at his cousin’s house
You don’t even know what it’s about

This is panic attack rap
Eating four flapjacks
Trap raps, let em free, they always come back to me
The Internet told me that that’s called love
I’m on the Internet cause I’m an Internet thug

Himanshu, yes I’m in control man
Pos Vibe Emanator
Yes I got my soul tan
Soul shine, soul glow, so so Po-Mo
Catch me on the South Side
Kicking it with Shlomo

Kicking it with Gary Soto
All the cholos saying “Mira el joto”
Just because I rock the secondhand Versace
Wash me, watch me
The second hand couldn’t even clock me
You couldn’t see me like a Cuban playing hockey
Cracker in the chocolate, that’s human Pocky
Papa look stocky, Mama look chalky
Me I look a little something like a young Shock G
Words come through me like I was a walkie talkie
All I do is open up my mouth and just rock, see
You, you are not me
Me I am possibly everything plus everything that is not me
Jokes, that is not T-R-U-E
Are you understanding everything, do you got me?
Catch me in the trees where it’s shady like Lockheed Martin
Sparking in the shade of the trees in the park, B
Hark the angels stay singing in the dark
Like the rainbow in the Ronnie James Dio joint
Hit it from the back court
Like it was a three point
I don’t give a fuck, I’m a duck to a decoy
No trustem white-face man like Geronimo
Tried to go to Amsterdam they threw us in Guantanamo

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Donald Trump & Selena Gomez, A Romance

I guess I can tell you what happened in the stock room now that TMZ broke the story with that video:

This was at the end of last summer. 2015. The start of August. When everything was happening all at once.

Selena came into the room. Selena Gomez. She walked right past the shipping crates. I knew it was her right away. I’d seen a lot of girls come and go during my time writing speeches for THE Donald, but I’d never seen anybody like Selena Gomez, and I didn’t have to Google her name to verify that it was actually her. Plus, she’s that pretty in real life. She looks exactly like she does in her Vevo videos, reminding me of a cross between a young mountain lion and a big-eyed, cartoon Disney princess.

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I was hiding out in a back corner, trying to figure out how to fix the latest of what we – on the team – liked to call “straight shooter issues.” I’d already dealt with on-air cursing, off-color debate comments, and – during the last two days – some sticky misogynistic moments. Also, I was trying to spin the persistent rumor that if THE Donald had only invested the “small 9 million-dollar loan” from his father, and had not worked at all, not a single day in his entire adult life, he’d actually be a lot richer than he is now. The problem with this inheritance/investment issue was that I’d done the research…and the financial analysts were correct. Also, the math was so simple that the average 7th-grader could do it.

Thankfully, American voters don’t want to do any math – not even 7th-grade math – so I just needed to twist a few financial facts, declare a bit of “liberal Dem bias,” throw in a red herring or two, add a sprinkle of Ad Hominem against Hillary, and a smooth little non sequitur to get on to a better topic.

Anyway, I was working on solving the inheritance problem, making it go away like everything else.

But Selena Gomez came into the room and I stopped working. She stood right there in the middle of the stockroom. She seemed like the kind of girl who stands in the middle of a room – no wallflower, is probably used to standing in the middle of every room she ever enters – so she was right there where I could see her. But she couldn’t see me because she was looking at her cell phone. Then – still looking at her phone – she turned, and her back was to me.

I was kind of hemmed into a corner, halfway hidden behind two shipping crates, sitting on the floor, leaning back against the sheetrock, my laptop resting on my legs. These are the kinds of places I go whenever THE Donald says something really, really ridiculous. I like to work in some small, backroom sort of place where I know I won’t be disturbed. So even if Selena turned around again, she might not’ve seen me in my slunk-down, half-hidden position.

I knew that I had a long day of research and speech writing. This was also right before Roger Stone quit our team (or, sorry, was “fired” by THE Donald), and it was also the time period when the Fox News anchors were mad about a few things, and I hadn’t even told Roger where I’d be. But he didn’t care as long as I showed up at the end of the day with a clear sound bite, a solid Tweet, and a full-length speech. That was what I needed to keep my job. It was a complicated summer but just like that it was also a very simple summer. The expectations were clear: Make THE Donald look like a titan of industry with at least the political acumen of a Bush brother. We knew that’d be enough to win the GOP nomination and maybe even the entire presidency.

Anyway, Selena was standing in the middle of the room, her back to me, her head bowed to her phone like she was praying, and I had a little time to look her over. I noticed that she was dressed up, too dressed up for the middle of the day, standing in the middle of a stock room in this part of town. She had on a little black cocktail dress, black heels, a small black purse in her left hand, and her hair was pulled up. I could tell that she wanted to look good, and the truth was, she did. Plus, she smelled good. Her vanilla perfume had already permeated the room, making it so I couldn’t focus on the laptop in front of me.

I was watching Selena as she watched her phone, and that was when THE Donald came in. Roger walked in with him and said, “Twenty minutes. That’s all,” and THE Donald gave him a pouty face before adjusting the front of his hairpiece. Then Roger left.

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Selena put her phone away, tucked it into that little black purse.

THE Donald said, “Don’t put your phone away. I love the things you’ve been sending me.”

Selena said, “You like the pics?”

“Oh yeah, I like those a LOT!” THE Donald enjoyed emphasizing the last word in most of his sentences, something I’d learned to use all-caps for or a series of exclamation points when I wrote his speeches.

Selena said, “But I heard that you don’t like Mexicans.” She moved her hips a little  when she said that, like she was dancing to some kind of music that no one could hear, and I’m sure she got THE Donald’s attention with her little shimmy and shake.

He stepped closer to her. “I would make a Mexican exception for YOU.”

Selena touched the lapel on his suit. “You would do that for me?”

“Without a doubt. You’re such a cute little…” THE Donald touched the tip of her nose, “…foreigner.”

Selena said, “You really think I’m cute?”

“Of course I do.”

Selena tipped her head to the side, and made a sad face. “’Cute’ is something Justin never called me. I tried every trick I knew, but he only thinks…” She stopped.

“Thinks what? You can tell me. My friends say that I’m a great LISTENER.”

“Well,” she said, “Justin just thinks…well, he just thinks prostitutes are cute.”

“That’s CRAZY!” THE Donald said. “You’re cuter than most prostitutes I’ve ever been with.”

“Oh, Donald, say that again.”

“You really ARE. And that’s the kind of TRUTH Obama is always afraid to say, the real truth. The difficult and obvious TRUTH!!!”

Selena started playing with THE Donald’s tie. She was sliding her fingers up and down the stripes, slow and smooth. She said, “I’ve been wanting to see you in private.”

“That’s normal. A lot of people want to see me in private. I’m a wealthy guy and my time is limited. But, of course, I want to see you in private too. There’s something I’ve been thinking about for us. It’s a big idea. World-CHANGING.”

I’d been listening this whole time – even taking notes on my laptop – but now I leaned forward to make sure that I didn’t miss a single word. I was scared of whatever THE Donald was about to say, scared for Selena, scared a little bit for her, but even more scared for me.

`           We – on the team – tried to limit the total number of ideas THE Donald was allowed to come up with each week. Roger was always telling him, “This is a one idea week, okay. That’s all we can handle right now. One.” Then he’d hold up a single finger for emphasis and THE Donald would look like a kindergartener who’d been sent to the corner by the teacher. He would lower his eyebrows and push his lips out. His hair would slide forward and flap a little bit on top, and I wanted to tell him to never make that face around the media but unfortunately I’d seen him make that face almost every single day I’d been with his campaign.

But THE Donald wasn’t making that face now. Right now, he looked happy. Or to be more accurate, he looked excited. Selena was still rubbing his tie and he had this big, wide-eyed look on his face as if Roger were allowing him a TEN-idea week. THE Donald leaned in to Selena, his face close to hers, and said, in a stage-whisper, “Run with me.”

“What?” she said.

“Run with me. Be my vice PRESIDENT!”

“Could I?” she said. “I mean, would people really think that I was…”

“Qualified?” he said. “Yes, of course. You’re FAMOUS.”

“Oh, that’s all you need to be?”

“Obviously. That’s all anyone needs to be ANYTHING in this country. We could be famous TOGETHER!!!”

“As running mates?”

“As lovers AND as running mates. Plus, you’d solve my Mexican problem!”

“Oh my god,” she said. “That is so sweet.”

“I know, see? Megyn Kelly was wrong. I really can be sweet to women.”

Selena pulled THE Donald’s face down and kissed him. Then she said, “Be sweet to me, Donald.”

He kissed her, then stopped and smelled her hair. “I’ll treat you better than Ivana.”

“Who’s Ivana?”

“No one, Sweetie. Shhh…” THE Donald put his finger to Selena’s lips.

Then they kissed some more, and THE Donald’s hair shifted a couple of inches to the right.

Selena pulled back. “Wait, I thought I heard that the vice president has to be 35 years old, or something like that.”

“Is that a RULE?!” THE Donald tipped his head back, held his hair, and laughed. “I don’t follow rules. That’s why I’m a breath of fresh air in this election. That’s why I’m something DIFFERENT. That’s why I’m going to WIN!”

“Oh, Donald,” Selena said, “hold me like Justin never did.”

THE Donald’s hands roamed down her body, and he whispered, “You know I will.”

 

…and the rest of what I saw, I probably shouldn’t describe.

Anyway, TMZ has that grainy video footage that – thank god – I’m not visible in.

 

Later that day – after a double-highball at a nearby bar to get rid of some lingering images in my mind, then two shots of espresso to clear my head – I came up with the following pieces of promotional material.

 

The Sound Bite:

Donald Trump has announced his running mate…

None other than the incomparable Selena Gomez.

 

The Tweet for @realDonaldTrump:

I love Mexicans so much that I’m sleeping with one AND running with one AS WELL!!!

Vote #SelenaAndTHEDonald

 

Plus, I wrote the speech that day, THE speech, the one that most people are saying will win Donald Trump the presidency of the United States.

I Have A Brain Injury, But…

I have a brain injury. There. I’ve said it. Publicly. It’s so much easier to not say it, to not admit it, to not talk about it. Because I don’t like to talk about it. I don’t want to explain how I feel, or discuss my symptoms, or detail how my healing’s going. I’d rather my injury not be there (and I know how obvious and stupid that statement sounds). I’d rather not be injured, but I am. I have what neurologists classify as a traumatic brain injury, a TBI.
Specifics: For the first time in my life, I can’t spell. Since the car accident on December 4th, 2014, I’ve had to relearn more than 500 words. Sometimes simple words. Three days ago, I relearned the spelling of the word “sandwich” (a complicated word – I know). Yesterday, I relearned the spelling of the word “wiggly.” Today – to copyedit this article – I had to relearn the spellings of “dissipate” and “avocado.”
Small words sometimes. Uncomplicated words. The thing is, I don’t know what I don’t know until I come across it. I’m writing, and I have to spell a word and I start typing…
…and a vast blankness appears in my mind like a gray sheet of paper has slid in front of my eyes. There’s nothing there, and I have no idea. I can’t even guess.
Also, I have headaches. Regular and significant headaches. If I get stressed or it’s too loud or there are too many things happening all at once, I get a dull ache above me eyes, and the ache spreads its spider legs into my cheekbones, down along the top of my nose, over my scalp and behind my ears. I have to spend 10 minutes in the dark, or try to go to sleep, or take migraine medication, or do all three of those things. Sometimes I put a pillow over my face and lay on the floor, waiting for the throbbing to dissipate, feeling ridiculous.
I get confused a lot as well, sometimes about little things, memories, who said what when, and whether or not I know something that I do or don’t know. I’m not sure. I ask people to tell me things twice. Three times? I sometimes ask the same question five minutes apart. I feel foolish when people tell me that they’ve already told me the answer to my question that I’ve already asked. For me, it can be a new thing each time I hear it.
So I’m not able to teach right now. Obviously. I’m on medical leave from the school district and will be for the rest of this year while my brain heals. Everyone’s going back to school tomorrow – after spring break – but I’m not. And just this week I got a letter about “permanent disability,” a term I don’t even want to think about.
This is a crazy new reality.
But there’s the issue of writing as well. My other job.
This last year, while dealing with the aftermath of the car accident and its effect on my brain, I struggled through the revision of my new novel This Is The Part Where You Laugh and the first four drafts of my next novel Too Shattered For Mending. I’ve never worked so hard to write so slowly. I didn’t always feel creative. I never felt talented. I did my work – completed my revisions and turned in my next novel – but I’ve never worked the way that I did. I’ve never struggled the way that I struggled. To make my brain work. I still loved writing (I always will) but writing this last year sometimes felt like three 1000-piece nature puzzles heaped together on a single table like some kind of cruel joke. I was the little kid trying to put all three puzzles together.
Is this the border of the undersea puzzle?
Or the border of the Yellowstone vista?
Or the edge of the stream in the Appalachian forest?
So many shades of green.
So many variations on the color blue.
Yet…
Yet…
I think of the Apostle Paul writing, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds…”
Consider it pure joy…
Whenever you face trials…
Pure joy…
Why would he write that?
And how is it possible?
How is ‘pure joy’ created in a time of trial?
It’s a difficult question – something I’ve come back to again and again – and this is what I’ve decided: Because we have to take joy in the trials and the triumphs, the whole of life, this complicated yet singular experience in it’s entirety. To enjoy life as it is – real life – we have to know struggle as well as ease. Pain as well as wonder. Suffering as well as comfort.
The understanding of life’s duality means learning empathy, acknowledging true differences, finding the capacity for a diverse and vast love.
Also – and this is not a small thing for me – I may have a brain injury, but my life isn’t filled with struggle. I may be experiencing some difficulty currently, but I have a wonderful life. I have a life I don’t deserve, great joys that outweigh any number of trials I’ve experienced. So focusing on joy is then a choice I can make.
With that in mind, I think of all the good things, and begin my own gratitude list:
Sitting with Jennie next to a warm fireplace and reading together or drinking coffee on the porch on a sunlit morning while the neighborhood is waking up.
Rock climbing at The Columns with Roo, or hiking up the hill together and chilling in that one oak tree that overlooks the Washington/Jefferson Street Bridge and the western half of the city.
Buying ice cream with Rain while we make sarcastic jokes in our local Safeway, then standing in the kitchen back at home and eating Ben and Jerry’s Half Baked, laughing about our days.
Reading a book in a chair, barefoot on the grass.
Listening to new music on the radio while I drive, or listening to old rap CDs in my kitchen while I do the dishes.
Going on a family night-hike by the light of the moon.
Watching Jupiter rise like blazed chromium in the east.
Camping in the desert and seeing my dog Bob Dylan run coyote circles in the afternoon dust.
Reading contemporary poetry.
Viewing collections of art.
Hanging out with friends.
Hanging out with my dad or Maddie.
Joking with the student leaders in my outdoor program.
Eating dark chocolate or avocados or quesadillas or breakfast-for-dinner whenever I want to.
Finishing a good novel and starting a new one.
Also, I realize what an amazing life I’ve been given in this country, how I’m part of the global 1% economically with my house and my car and my refrigerator and my bank account and my bicycle and my book contract and my backyard and my hammock and my laptop and the clean running water that comes out of the tap, water that I can drink any time without fear of dysentery or cholera or water-born parasites. I live such an easy life in a home set to 67 degrees right now while it’s 44 degrees outside.
Realizing that my list could go on forever (that I stopped myself from writing fifty other things), I understand that gratitude creates an infinite capacity for joy. This is the wonderful life I live, and if my life is this good, this easy, then what will I do with my hours? How will I help other people? How will I encourage and love and foster and develop?
Also, what am I holding onto that doesn’t really matter? What do I call “important” that has no eternal value? What objects am I grasping in my tightly-clenched pathetically-weak human fists?
I keep Mary Oliver’s famous poem “The Summer Day” next to my bed and I’ve reread it ten or so times lately. To end that poem, Oliver writes, “Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

7 Strong Opinions: If You Want To Be A Great Artist, Don’t Eat Fat Chunks Of Half-Cooked Mediocrity

Mushy food

A few years ago, I finished writing and revising my first publishable literary novel (I say “publishable” because I’d written a lot of garbage-pseudo-literary fiction before my first published novel, and that trash fiction was thankfully never published).

While I went through the whole publishing process with my first novel – revisions, copy-editing, covers, blurbs, publicity, etc. – I almost destroyed my own mind.

How did I do this? By reading a lot of commercial nonfiction.

That might seem dramatic, but it isn’t. Reading a large quantity of commercial nonfiction was a horrible decision. Don’t get me wrong, I thought I was doing the right thing. I had a best friend who loved and recommended nonfiction to me, and I kept reading the material he gave to me. From there, I branched out and tried other informative nonfiction.

But I’m not being dramatic when I say that the regular reading of nonfiction affected me. I struggled to write high-quality literary fiction for two years after, and regularly discovered myself thinking more simply about everyday issues. As an artist, I was becoming mentally simplistic. Vacuous. Vapid.

It’s not that nonfiction is terrible writing, and it’s not that nonfiction is inherently a bad thing. BUT…commercial nonfiction is incredibly mediocre writing. If all writing is bathwater, commercial nonfiction is tepid, luke-warm, not worth getting into, and certainly not worth submerging in for long periods of time.

I know I sound harsh, but if producing great art is your goal, then don’t immerse yourself in mediocre art. Set high standards, and maintain those high standards.

Here are seven strong opinions on the topic:

1. Keep your internet visits short. VERY FUCKING SHORT.

The internet is a festering puss pond of mediocrity. Have you ever sat next to someone while he’s surfing Facebook? That catatonic, slack-mouthed, dead-eyed face he makes while he stares at the screen? That once-every-10-minutes “Whoa, you gotta see this” exclamation?

Or long episodes of hanging out on Twitter?

Scrolling through other people’s Instagram photos?

Looking up sports gossip?

Celebrity news updates?

Set a time limit with the internet and stick to it. Say, “I’ve got ten minutes to answer these two emails, post once, and get offline.” Then stick to your time limit. CLOSE THE LAPTOP.

2. Don’t read mediocre writing.

My mother raised me on the phrase “Readers are leaders,” and I love that phrase because it’s true. If you’re not a reader, you’re not a great artist. It’s as simple as that. Great books and memoirs and poetry develop creativity. They make your mind work. The metaphors and complicated structures and narrative arcs force your mind to find new connections, spark analogous thinking, enhance mental divergence. If you want to be a great artist of any kind, you have to be a great reader.

But although I love the phrase “Readers are leaders,” it’s not completely true, or it’s not completely true in all cases. What you choose to read does matter. Selection matters. For example, if you read only Amish Murder Mysteries (a real genre in publishing that sells quite well) or Paranormal Romance, for example, you’re never going to create great art. That’s a fact.

To create great art, read great art.

3. Don’t watch reality television.

The average person in The United States watches hours of reality television every week, and some of the most popular shows on television are reality shows. So reality shows are – by definition – what the middle watches. The average. The mediocre middle of America.

Most artists know that reality shows won’t help them produce great art, but what about the opposite effect? Can watching bad reality shows negatively affect you as an artist?

Bad Input = Bad Output?

That seems like a logical equation.

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Let’s take The Bachelorette on ABC for example since it was listed by TV guide as the most popular show on television last week. This is a show about a young woman looking for love, and two dozen men trying to be the last man standing. It seems like a classic plot, right? But if great art is the goal, then the specifics of the art matter.

In The Bachelorette, no character has any depth, people’s lives are made up of dates, roses, feelings, alcohol, more feelings, more alcohol, talks, swimming, hot-tubbing, and eating while drinking more alcohol and again talking about feelings. Also, everyone on the show speaks in the passive voice:

“Feelings are getting intense.”

“Tough conversations need to be had.”

“Things are being said that I don’t like.”

Wait, who did what?

Why can’t those subjects do any actions?

Even the better reality shows, shows with more powerful conflicts, shows like Naked And Afraid on Discovery, are – unfortunately – formulaic. Since Naked And Afraid is a true survival show meaning the (contestants? stars? participants?) actually suffer physically while trying to survive for 21 days, all of the conflicts are the same show to show. While trying to survive, will the two people find quality drinking water? Will one of the people start a fire? Will either of them find much to eat? Those questions are great for a little while, but not for long. Every show is the same. And the mundane is the unimaginative.

4. Study art.

– Go to the Picasso museum in Barcelona. Watch Picasso’s developmental process unfold room to room. Examine his mental process as he becomes more abstract.

– Read at least five Toni Morrison novels.

– Listen to Wu-Tang. Then listen to Jay-Z’s The Blueprint.

– Go to the Vatican in Rome, and stare at each sculpture for a long, long time. Think about chiseling any of those marble sculptures out of one giant block, start to finish, no mistakes.

– Read Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson over and over.

– Listen to Mad Villain’s beats.

– Read Dorianne Luax’ poetry. For something completely different, read Kay Ryan’s.

– Stare at Jackson Pollock’s “Autumn Rhythm” until you can see a rhythm.

– Read contemporary poetry and fiction in the literary journals Tin House and The Missouri Review.

– Listen to Bob Dylan’s Biograph collection, and dwell on the lyricism. Then listen to Adele cover Bob Dylan and sing each song infinitely better.

– Peruse a different painter online each month (Google images is an amazing and free resource for learning a painter’s body of work).

– Watch highlight compilation videos of Barry Sanders playing running back.

5. Attempt to understand other people’s lives (and/or suffering).

Although many, many TV shows are about the richest most best looking people on the entire planet, this is not what great art is about. Great art is about empathy and depth and creativity and wonder and struggle. I don’t mean that you can’t be a great artist if you grew up in The Hamptons, but I am saying that you’ll never be a great artist if you stay in The Hamptons your whole life because great art isn’t about one thing, and it certainly isn’t about a few monochromatic rich people who live in boring, daily unreality.

So try something different:

– Talk to illegal immigrants.

– Feed the hungry.

– Work with the homeless.

– Talk to people who are different from you, to people who work different jobs, to people who’ve made different choices, to people who speak different languages. And while we’re talking about languages, learn another language. Don’t be an American who’s content with only speaking English.

– Ask good questions and really listen to other people’s answers. Don’t try to interject with your own better stories or your really funny comebacks or comments. Listen to other people. Imagine their entire lives, waking to sleeping. Be in their houses. Wear their clothes. Sleep with their lovers. Raise their children.

6. Break rules.

My agent recently told me that she couldn’t sell a piece of fiction because the dialogue was a mess. I said, “What kind of a mess?”

She said, “It’s too perfect. No one uses any contractions.”

Dialogue is a careful mixture of eloquence and atrocious grammar. Correct structure and god-awful colloquialisms. The masters of dialogue break rules in perfect ways, and in the creation of great art, we must break rules often. Judiciously.

Think of Gwendolyn Brooks enjambment to break the simple rhymes of “We Real Cool.”

Or Leonardo da Vinci digging up dead bodies?

Or Jimi Hendrix with his homemade distortion pedals?

Yo Yo Ma warping time with his elongated cello swells?

Sylvia Plath going DARK in her personal narratives.

7. Finally, don’t follow anyone else’s advice.

Not even mine. You can follow some of it, sure. Some of it will work with you. But you have to set your own standards. And the truth is, I don’t always follow my own advice. None of us do. We’re all hypocrites. But I keep pushing. I keep trying. And you can too. Set your own high standards, and try to live up to those standards most of the time.

But be your own person. Do your own thing. Find your own artistic outlet and push, push, push yourself to improve. Don’t become complacent and don’t allow yourself to wallow in your own mediocrity. Work on your weaknesses. You aren’t born with talent. You earn talent through daily and monthly and yearly choices, actions, and discipline.

Finally, don’t congratulate yourself too much if you have a moment of success because what is success anyway? Success is one of those cheap 4th of July sparklers on a short metal stick. It may not light. It may not stay lit. And even if it sparks into something bright green and orange and yellow, you’re likely to burn your own hand before the process is over.

Dear Miley Cyrus, Kanye West, and Dead People – A Poetic Response To The Grammys

Sam Smith got up in his red suit and pronounced that we should all be ourselves, so here’s me, writing poems about the Grammys.

 

Stream of Consciousness To The Greatest Of All Time, Kanye West:

Dear Kanye, my grandmother used to repeat the old proverb “Better to be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt” but your mouth keeps opening somehow a jaw unhinging like a sorority girl vomiting into a Delta toilet at the end of the night your words so repetitive as you flirt with an upside down spotlight which would be a good metaphor for whatever it is that you think you do if only you wrote metaphors or even understood them instead of purely literal lyrics and not rhyming at all in this song that you’re so proud of writing all by yourself like a big kid.

But at least you auto-tuned the whole thing live.

 

Note To Miley Cyrus From The Wrecking Ball:

All I wanted was a year of bashing buildings,

swinging from cranes on enormous steel lines, smashing through

walls, bricks, maybe a few 1960s apartment buildings.

But you brought me into your studio,

skidged yourself on top of me like

a sea cucumber slit open by a fixed blade, the

wet suck, something I will not get over for a long time.

They say that Robin Thicke pedophiled you on national TV last year, but

you may as well have offered me candy and puppies as I was loaded

heavy into your van, the naked wet of your vehicle and now

you’re a finalist for Best Pop Vocal Album of the year?

 

Haiku On Old-School Performances:

McCartney, Hancock

and Madonna? Why are we

exhuming the dead?

 

Kim Kardashian On The Red Carpet, A Cinquain:

Kim,

not musical,

batting eyelashes, turning

in your golden bathrobe,

unskilled.

 

To The Red Carpet Itself:

How did you get this job, not green or blue but

Purple is a royal color and could be the carpet of choice

for stars to stumble across, bubbly and buzzing from limo shots,

or almost stars to walk upon and hope for interviews, cameras, microphones,

anything to reflect their own images.

If you want to catch a raccoon, drive 2.5-inch nails, angled down, into a coffee can

and place something shiny in the bottom: A silver dollar, a bracelet, a small mirror.

The raccoon, masked and striped as if he’s dressed up for a special occasion

will insert his hand, grasp the sparking object, and won’t let go,

even after he discovers that he can’t remove his closed fist from the trap.

Never will he relinquish the shiny piece of something that he is holding

even if he realizes that he has been caught in the open, exposed, looking like a fool.

 

(Thanks to Gavin Marsonette for some inspiration. Hashtag.)

 

IOP River Trip

We’ve decided to take the Integrated Outdoor Program back to the Deschutes River in Central Oregon this year.
Here’s a rafting video my student Cam made last year on that stretch of river. In the video you can see a couple of class IV rapids plus lots of boat attacks:
Youtube Video
We usually do three days on a river, camp, hike, raft, kayak, run through rescue techniques, pirate other boats, and fish.