Thursday, November 8, 2018


Life suddenly became extremely bizarre. In 1997, I concocted a character name for a valiant USMC hero on Mars in the 22nd century. Today I received an email from a young woman who asked if I knew her late father, who in reality had the same name and same USMC rank.

How does one explain the inexplicable? -- and what cosmic whiplash might happen next? -- email from Lt. Janet DiMarco, or a real Col. Chris Cable married to a real Peachy?

Thank God my writing career is over, no blasphemy intended.


Somewhat silly

Monday, October 29, 2018

Uh, immigration

With thousands marching toward the border, President Trump is prepared to deploy troops to (shoot them?) uh, do something by golly (put them on buses, to be fed, housed, educated, and doctored in humane detention centers? asylum claims filed? given transport home?)

Meanwhile, there are hundreds of thousands of Arabs and Asians who came on student or tourist visas and forgot to leave. No one knows where they are. Ten or twelve million illegal aliens are loose in Los Angeles and San Francisco, swelling welfare rolls, working as casual day laborers with fake identity documents, concealing and enabling  MS-13 gang members.

Since everyone else is talking about immigration, I suppose I'll have to say something, too. I'm supposed to be a sharp cookie, specialized in constitutional theory, right?

Let's begin with previous writing. Liberty trumps property. There have to be public roads to facilitate travel between Point A and Point B. That said, no one has a natural right to trespass on private property, except power lines, pipelines, and other sorts of community facilities like airport approaches that limit airspace and subsurface resources that extend underneath multiple properties and have to be unitized as a matter of equity.

Speaking of equity reminds me of another dozen ways that neighbors can limit what you do with private property. If you invite MS-13 to set up a base of operations on your land, there is nothing in law to stop neighbors from waging war via police or private action. The caravan of thousands marching toward private land on the border are likewise a "public nuisance" that could be ordered to scram, to cease and desist clogging up Border Patrol operations. If a court order is ignored, they could be imprisoned until they comply.

Unfortunately, court orders are appealable, so we'd end up detaining them pending review by a circuit court and conceivably the Supreme Court. If a cake shop dispute can go all the way to the Supreme Court, there's little doubt that thousands of asylum seekers could do it, too, claiming to be wrongfully detained, denied due process, racially profiled, ill-treated while in custody, and so on. It's a sort of No Win clusterfuck.

If it were up to me, I'd build a fenced highway from the border to the nearest Salvation Army soup kitchen, and let private charities deal with refugees, however many make it across the border. Border Patrol should identify and arrest evil men disfigured with MS-13 tatoos, turn them over to ICE for detention, interrogation, and prosecution. I am opposed to the death penalty and cruel punishments, but war powers could be invoked against drug dealing, with POW camps established at the border. MS-13 gang members arrested in Long Island or LA or Chicago can be sent to the POW camp. There's no Geneva Convention privilege to distribute heroin and phentanol, to intimidate and imperil U.S. citizens.

Can Congress declare war on MS-13? Sure. It's a cohesive foreign force.

Obviously, that's not going to happen. We can't rely on Congress to do anything logical or timely. Think about it. What should private actors do when confronted by evil? Turn a blind eye to women and children, help them to reach safety, far from the field of battle.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

What would Galt do?

Duct tape math.
There's a formula on the wall of my writing office, 2 + 1 = 0.  It needs to be updated, 3 + 1 = minus 1.  Three years of writing full time, ten titles, almost half a million words, plus a year to clear land and build a house, left me stranded and penniless, begging the neighbors for day labor at minimum wage so I can buy dog food, cigarettes, Oscar Meyer, coffee, and saltines, more or less in that order of priority. The dog has to eat. Not his fault that he got run over by a FedEx van, dislocated hip, broken foreleg that didn't heal right, blind in both eyes with thick white cataracts and crusty goop that has to be softened and cleaned every morning. He has to be bathed two or three times a week, fighting summer fleas that refuse to die.

Summer doesn't bother me. Winter does.

What would Galt do? -- no phone, no car, no money, no book sales. I have successfully exited organized society, worse than a desert island, ignored by the world and forgotten. Once a day I walk up the hill to fill a couple jugs of water and empty spam from my inbox. I get one email a week on average. The last one was from my brother Roger. My sister-in-law expressed an interest in reading Partners, which is a sort of obscenity, a family curiosity, old nutty Alan, a black sheep destined to starve to death. I had to punch two extra holes in my belt last week.

Have at it, Gail. Read two pages and wrinkle your nose, shake your head in disdain and put it down, never to be opened again, no book review on Amazon, no mention in social media. I swear by my life and my love of it that it doesn't matter.


Sunday, September 30, 2018

An alternate universe

I often wished I could have had a respectable life. Scott, heir to a foundry, solid citizen. Last time I saw him, he was mowing his lawn, smoking a cigar, grumpy as heck. Something similar happened to Glen, sad and truculent. Cheery Joette died young. Eileen became an academic feminist, a functionary of government. Tootie played well with others, smiled a lot. Tommy was a naval officer. Steve followed in his father's footsteps, a bank officer. He was stuffy and unhelpful when I helped my mother present a check to pay off her mortgage. Probably got fired when his small town bank was acquired by a regional brand. Up or out, right, Steve?

Charlie became a librarian or something at an ashram, after a long career as a drunk. My pal Tom worked at the same part-time job 30 years with occasional forays in video, much of it access comedy, old jokes told twice. Jay faked reality and used Ronco Spray-On Hair. I didn't think he was particularly talented or clever, but he lived his entire life in show business and did a great job as art director on a show that Tom produced and I directed in 1982.

Okay, suppose I had been born in another time, like my father. He drove a halftrack in WWII, went to college and met my mother. Five sons used him up, kept him indentured to a job and a small town that he hated, beaten into accepting Food Stamps, devastating humiliation. He always wanted to work construction, move to Arizona, got to do neither, died where he was born. Ditto Uncle Fred, a bachelor shunned and shamed by pilfering a client's cash, did tax returns for helpless idiots, died in the house that he and Aunt Mary inherited, never left the nest. My brothers fared okay, I guess. Roger did exceptionally well, but he was hobbled by caring for my parents in their long horror of illness and incompetence. I escaped and never went back, except to visit and escape again as quickly as possible. There was nothing for me in Milwaukee or the crushingly airless German village that destroyed my parents.

Lemme think, who do I admire? Anne Coulter for sure, Ivy League law school, happy as a clam and perfectly confident no matter how awful the opposition. She laughs at them. Margaret Thatcher was wonderful in the same way, tough, happy, skewered blockheads gaily and took down the Soviet Union in partnership with Reagan. I did not want to be Ronald Reagan, nor did I admire Donald Trump. George W. Bush was a stone idiot, his father equally shallow and conventional. Jeb is the smart one? Hahahaha.

Oh, come on, surely there must be someone who you'd rather be?

Blank stare. Hammett and Chandler had horrible lives, Fitzgerald infinitely worse. Patton was a monster, although George C. Scott was splendid. It's certain that Jimmy Stewart was loved, but I'm not sure how good an actor he was. Acting was unnatural to me, directing automatic. That was the only definite talent I exhibited as a kid -- ringleader, organizer, leader. A client in Philadelphia asked: "How long have you been an idea man?" The question stunned me, made me think, and the only thing I could say in reply was: "All my life."

That's good news and awful news. In a recent email, my brother Roger opined that I was a "visionary," which was a respectable office on occasion (Edison, Voltaire, Grotius) but more often a trainwreck: Marx, Jesus, Mohammed, Kant, Owen, Wilson, FDR, Mao. I like to think that I advanced better ideas, but the price was awfully fucking steep, an entire lifetime and big misadventures  to discern a simple idea or two. I never regarded myself as particularly talented, aside from directing and editing, storytelling, pitching ideas.

Denied a career in show business and exiled as an author, I should have done something else in life, but what? Butcher, baker, candlestick maker. Machinist, artist, janitor. But the truth is inescapable, I was always a terrible employee. Personal best was a year at Disney, pushing paper and pushing the envelope, unwanted. I was under a lot of pressure. Tab had adapted Hunchback of Notre Dame, a one-sheet poster opposite my cubicle, saw it ten times a day. Tab got a nice WGA payday and I got $15 an hour to master Miramax bullshit. We started out as apartment neighbors in a cheap North Hollywood lanai. Cut it out, quit bitching. You don't want Tab's karma, nor Tarantino's or Spielberg's, that's for damn sure.

Okay, more truthiness, I was horrible at math. I remember the classrooms quite clearly, 14 years old, totally lost in geometry and pre-algebra. No science for you, dumbshit. The specific alternate universe I hoped for as a kid was radio communications. I couldn't memorize Morse Code to get a ham licence, a cognitive deficit, every second a new blank slate. No wonder I needed help as a filmmaker, couldn't shoot my own stuff, had to be prompted by a script girl on the set, made silly mistakes and missed common sense visual opportunities, emotionally overwhelmed by a performance, a stunt, a dolly move, a moment of life in high relief.

Sex mad, moment by moment seduction in high key. All I can do is shake my head, partly in plain disbelief. Gone now, of course. Too old and feeble to fuck. So I started putting porn on the page, outrageously graphic. No wonder I write so slowly. Stories unfold in slow motion, unplanned, extemporaneous. Plain language. A deep seated fear of repeating myself, using the same word or same idea twice, an impossible mission. Unread, utterly isolated.

Poop. Happy to be me, with one simple misery, grinding poverty, unable to feed myself. The draw of an alternate universe is money, applause, recognition as an idea man. Too late now. My ideas were unwelcome. Is that the fate of all visionaries? Terrible result.

Or is it? Consider Kavanaugh. Silver spoon, only child, first in his class, athlete, Yale, secret White House clearance, Harvard law professor, DC circuit court judge, never thought a radical idea in his life, squeaky clean follower of fascism, suddenly ruined by Deep State black ops, another turn of the torture screws every day and every sleepless night. He will die a broken man, everything wrongly taken from him, a straight-laced Boy Scout eaten by the lions.

Compared to Kavanaugh, being me sounds pretty good.


Friday, September 28, 2018

Intensely proud

I opened Finding Flopsie tonight, skipped past the soap opera set-up and went straight to Chris on his own, losing his teaching job, his office, his p.i. license, and his pride, all in one afternoon. Absolutely terrific -- and then the story takes off on urgent business, active and grim, Chris Cable at his best, age 64. Whether I got Peachy's story right is debatable, but it simply had to be that way, role reversal with her evil sister, a tortured animal.

Not much to say about Partners, my masterwork.

I cleaned up Mars Shall Thunder for the anthology Eight Ruthless Novels, happy with it and proud of it, my first full-length novel. The Good Walk Alone was a rolicking comedy, free as a lark, fun to write, drove me crazy writing a serial to weekly deadline. DiMarco remains my favorite character of all, a tough female homicide cop, age 38. I don't know quite what to say about First Feature. Personal stories are holy, if anything pertaining to show business is.

The Case Files trilogy (Valor, Tar Pit, and Charity) are what they had to be, a modern Nick and Nora Charles, to honor Dashiell Hammett's final novel The Thin Man, a burlesque that broke the noir genre, gave us penthouse cocktail parties and sexy women as a backdrop to murder. Chris and Peachy are a little different, equals in life, an unbeatable team. A Portrait of Valor tests them to the limit of human daring and spiritual endurance at the peak of their vitality, 30-something, deeply in love for the first time, perfectly matched in marriage. In many ways Valor is my favorite story. Boy meets girl and they go to heaven and hell to earn each other. Being childless opens the door to an important truth, the wider moral horizons of Charity. In our calm, clever 50s, new life happens if we embrace it.

I suppose it's true that all of my stories are aspects of my personal life, things that happened to me, one way or another, amplified a notch or two. I wrote about people and places I knew well enough to speak confidently. I had a life full of adventure. A little sad that it's over, but that's part of life, too. No one likes to talk about the end, and it would be wrong to paint the final chapter of any fictional character's slow demise. Bad enough that I have to do it.

Nice to leave a literary legacy, the splendor of young adulthood and active middle age, great eagerness to thrive, a whole world to gamble and win -- or to lose, in the tragedy of Partners, a story that I did not expect to create. Partners was costly, in time and talent and weight of burden, everything I had to give and endure, the capstone of my career. I know it for a fact, I worked 20 years to prepare myself to write Partners. Completely unexpected and worth it.

Truthfully, I don't recommend that anyone else pursue a creative career. The field is occupied by hostile assholes and pusillanimous slime. Indie self-publishing is a fake solution, gateway to obscurity, sandbagged by Amazon and Google if you stand up for straight white wildcats. I cared about my characters and their circumstances, emptied my wallet to let them breathe and stand fully erect, a proud race of titans. "Old fashioned," Cass declared. So be it. We owe our industrial preeminence and military power to such people, men and women who face a world of tawdry evasion, ritual, and inertia, and kick it into the gutter, where it belongs.

A pity that I wasn't born rich, but if I had been there would be no Chris and Peachy, no Janet DiMarco, no Harry Faraday and Laura Oak, no Kyle and Karen, no Freeman's Constitution to honor and defend them. Pretty good bargain. Those who fight for the future live in it today, Ayn Rand said. True, false, or purple, I'm satisfied that I did everything I could to advance the idea of defacto liberty. Whether sterling hero or hardened criminal, nothing displaces human potential, personal choice, stern perception of values, to live free or to die a coward's quiet, anonymous, meaningless end on earth. The gift of life is not to be thrown away cheaply.


It was a Deep State operation

San Francisco-based talker Michael Savage broadcast an important story last night. Dr. Ford taught psychological warfare at Stanford. Her brother organized Fusion GPS. The attack on Kavanaugh was scripted. Do not underestimate Obama-led CIA spooks and FBI agents. They will stop at nothing and have unlimited funds, indoctrinated and trained to lie under oath.

Security of the White House and Republican leadership depends entirely on Secret Service, Capitol Police, and a small Marine detail. Damn well better be on a war footing, prepared to deal with chemical, biological, or nerve agent attack. No wonder Paul Ryan is retiring.

A  Mueller leak of rumors and lies before Nov. 6 is dead certain, a classic "October surprise" like the phony Trump dossier leaked to the press in October 2016. Equally certain are Antifa / Me Too / Black Lives Matter marches and riots, with an avalanche of sex abuse accusations hurled at Republican candidates, physical attacks in restaurants and campaign events. In the event that Dems win a majority in the House, v.p. Mike Pence will be targeted next.