Monday, November 28, 2005

When Bruce Springsteen made the album Born To Run about 30 years ago, it took six months of grueling studio time to perfect it. The members of the band worked day & night, and Bruce himself drove it all. He talks about a thick notebook that went on for pages and pages before even one line of music that got used on the album came out. I learned all of this recently, from an NPR special and an article in the British magazine Uncut (did you know the British did not like Bruce at all??). After being a BS fanatic for 32 years, all of this information has caused me to rearrange my set of beliefs about the Boss. Contrary to the laid-back rocker image he projects, he comes across in these interviews as a fear-driven, perfectionistic, borderline obsessive. (In other words, he's a real human being).This does not make me like him less. On the contrary, it helps me understand that behind every work of genius, there is an extraordinary amount of work, drive, and attention to detail. There's a lot of magical thinking about creativity, and art of all kinds, and I think one truly enters the realm of the artist when one acknowledges that what's required is dedication and discipline, not just vision. Wow.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Wallace Stegner ON WRITING

"For the writer, whose life is as often as not a mess, (fiction) can clean up a murky and littered mind as snails clean up a fish tank. And at its best it leaves behind a purified residue, an artifact, something shaped and created and capable of communicating whatever wisdom it has arrived at."

It's cheaper than therapy, too.


Some things in life really do get better. I think many of us in these postmodern times believe that decline is the only possible direction, even though we may not say so. It's tempting to flirt with despair when the prognostications of natural decay due to human interference (ie global warming) and upheaval and destruction due to human greed and enmity are rampant.

I just returned from New Jersey where, among other signs of doom, I saw the damage wrought by two floods this past year. At home we experienced tornados, and yet another hurricane is brewing in the Gulf. Even a die hard liberal begins to wonder whether the Biblical descriptions of the end times have some sort of weird merit.

But then I went to New York City. All through my formative years in NJ, it was pretty much accepted that one only chose to go to NYC if they were 1) required by their business; 2) wealthy enough to do so in style (not most of the people I knew); or 3) crazy. We did get hauled there on the occasional field trip, and the folks back home would send us off with a sack full of warnings. The one I remember best is "Don't look up-you'll be found out to be a tourist and you'll get killed." Taxi drivers were only slighter more moral than Satan, and riding in a taxi was a dangerous thrill that, while death-defying, could provide tales back at home.

This was my third visit to NYC in the past calendar year, and each trip has delighted me more. The streets are clean and safe. Central Park is astoundingly beautiful, almost a recreation of the storybook New York of childhood fantasies. Merchants and service people are-dare I say it?-friendly and solicitous. I jokingly told my child thst it would be best not to say, "Have a nice day," while in NYC, but I was wrong. Nearly every clerk and cashier gave us that very salutation.

Have alien Mormons taken over the bodies of the grumpy and gritty New Yorkers we all know and love to fear? Because there is no doubt that things have changed. Probably some of it has to do with the Apple's preparations for the Olympic bid, but I suspect that it's due in large part to a kind of collective determination to triumph over the horror of September 11th. I don't think I'm imagining this, and it gives me the teensiest glimmer of hope in the midst of all this decline and atrophy.

Sometimes things actually get better instead of worse, and humans seem to be the cause in both directions.

Friday, November 04, 2005

RITALIN makes me furious!

Why do people think it's OK to drug kids?
I am currently working on a novel about a young family, and the little boy, modeled after my own son (now grown) is what might be called hyperactive. He's high energy and demanding.
I remember that one of my son's teachers suggested he get tested for ADD (it was a new idea then), but THANK GOD I had the presence of mind to ignore her.
What I did have to do was expend a good deal more energy, time, and patience with him than with my older, easier son. He became an honor student and had no significant problems throughout his school years.
People now just take drugging kids for granted! Do you know that about 10% of kids in schools are on drugs for ADD/ADHD?
Matthew Fox (Creativity) says that what we have is actually an Imagination Deficit Disorder, and I agree. On Ritalin and "ADD," he says:
"...we have in America the perverse situation wherein adults are drugging our children so they will sit still in the classroom. Adults are reaping great financial rewards by doing so."
Is anybody else alarmed by this?

Here's a website that has quite a few links to articles and reports on Ritalin: <>