Category Archives: Fiction

Fame

 

Famous

From Kanye’s controversial, slightly misogynistic, NSFW music video for his song “Famous.”

 

He had always wanted to be famous. He envisioned himself on radio talk shows and late night TV shows. Being interviewed by Jon Stewart or Terry Gross or Conan O’ Brien or … whoever, really. He’d be sly, funny, witty, humble. Famous enough to be on said shows, but not famous enough that he was an asshole.

He wanted to be famous for creating something beautiful. Something dark and true and resonating. Something to validate his existence. To make the hard times worth living, because others would be there, with him, in the struggle. Whether it be painting or writing or music or film—it didn’t matter. He just wanted to be famous, for something. Have others experience what he experienced. Perhaps it was validation. Perhaps it was pity. Perhaps it was a boyish need to have others accept him for who he was, for others to empathize with just how damn hard living in this world was. But he wanted to be recognized. In fact, he didn’t know if he could go unrecognized.

So he wanted to be famous.

If he were famous, however, he’d criticize fame, the spectacle of it. The American drive or myth that says everyone can be famous. Because we all want to be movie stars and rock stars, and advertisements tell us we can. Perhaps his own drive to be famous was born out of the same mythology. Perhaps this was why he was disappointed. Because he was not a movie star and his life was not like a movie. Because fame is a slippery thing.

He wanted to be famous because that meant making a difference in the world. You could say things people would listen to.

He didn’t want to be extremely famous, like Justin Bieber famous or even B movie star famous. Just famous enough so that people would respect him. Not that they didn’t respect him already. He was a respectable man—but not a famous one.
Fame gives narrative structure to failure. It evokes social empathy. If you’re simply a drug addict, you get little sympathy. If you’re a famous drug addict, you get narrative. People will then weave stories around your childhood, your demons, your fall from grace. And though it might not be pretty, it’s a story, and it’s better than what the bastards no one’s ever heard of get, which is no story. Sure, they have stories. But none worth telling because they’re simply some drunk who went to war or who had mental illness, not some drunk who was so brilliant that he could not deal with his own inherent genius and creativity and depression or manic anxiety or whatever else accompanies greatness. Or maybe there is no greatness, but there is fame. And that alone warrants more story than none. It at least gets people thinking. No one thinks about the drunk at the park. The heroine addict. The kid drinking cough syrup. Their stories are less interesting when they’re not famous. They’re just losers. Fame is the ingredient that makes all things allowed.

As much as he wanted to be okay with a simple life, a life of love and service and small deeds done in patience, he didn’t know if he could be. As if he would feel like a failure if he was never recognized, never given attention or, in his deepest fears, if he never created something worth recognition or attention. He wanted to live simply. But be famous for living simple. He wanted to be famous, but famous for criticizing fame. Anything else would be a diminution of his aspirations, to be known, and yet known for criticizing the known. That’s what he wanted to be known for. His own known knowingness of his known darkness in criticizing the known. Because somehow … that would help.

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Chapbook Release! A Brief History of Melancholy

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Hello friends,

And by friends I mean the two people who read this blog. I don’t know why I even keep this around, online presence I guess? Though Twitter is probably better. I’ve decided I’m done “blogging,” but still want a website to some degree to share writings so I guess I’ll continue.

Anyways, I have exciting news. Next Saturday I will be releasing a chapbook. What is a chapbook? Well, it’s a short collection of writings (usually inexpensively produced and refers to poetry). Somewhere between a zine and a full on self-published book. It’s like a mix-tape. Like what Drake was going to put out but somehow became a #1 hits album.

As a writer I wanted to produce something you could hold in your hands and not just read online, scrolling down on your phone. I didn’t want to self-publish an entire book per se but I wanted to get something, anything, out there. So, voila. This should hold over my desire to create for a brief minute while I get an actually publishable book in place.

Thank you for reading. I will be doing an awesome release party next Saturday, May 2nd at The Rose Establishment with further readings by Jason Dickerson and music by The Circulars and Bat Manors.

If you are one of those Kindle people or out of state you can get an early release here:

http://www.amazon.com/Brief-History-Melancholy-Vignettes-Feel-Good-Life/dp/0692420568/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1429916947&sr=8-1&keywords=a+brief+history+of+melancholy

I think that’s all. Here’s a picture of my dog and run we did up City Creek Canyon the other day.

Also below: an excerpt.

Okay love you bye,

Levi

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Excerpt:

8.

Nostalgia had a tendency to ruin his life. He’d get caught up in thinking that this certain time or that certain time in his life was better than it probably, in all reality, was. He’d think about some moment in his childhood—the warm mug of hot chocolate after a day of sledding, the smoke of woodstoves in October from the year’s first cold day. The lips of the first girl he kissed, lips softer than satin. He’d think about these moments of his childhood and he’d think that it was better. Better or simpler in some way.

Or he’d think about college. The girls he dated. The afternoons spent snowboarding with friends when there was nothing to do afterwards but watch snowboard movies and eat pizza. Or he’d think about other eras. How much nicer it would be to be living as a cowboy or an Indian. A pirate or Viking. To live in a world without cars that sped everything up and computers that always tempted you with nude women. There were times when he would think he was not born for the era he lived in. That God messed up somehow and should have placed him in an earlier time. A time where you could shit in the woods and it wasn’t called camping. We’re too selfish now, he thought. Too easily overcome by the petty dissonance of modernity.

But he knew all this nostalgia got him nowhere. It was escapism. After all, he did not have many fond memories of elementary school. Or middle school, or high school, for that matter. He was confused and insecure the entire time. Riddled with pimples in the mirror and boners in math class. There was all the independence in college, which he now looked at with fondness, when in reality it was pure loneliness. He probably prayed late at night for a wife and kids to take him out of his misery. And now he prayed for just the opposite. He even had nostalgia for the future, if there was such a thing. Thinking of how much better things would be in the future. When he was in shape and famous and throwing dollar bills around like he was 2 Chainz. It was the present that sucked. The present had no rearview mirror. No distance. It was right there. No blurry future. No whitewashed past. No narrative structure. It just stared you in the face like a cold January day.

It was sort of like that saying, “The grass is always greener.” Whoever came up with that little phrase was a fucking genius. I wonder, did it happen as it sounds? As in two people (neighbors probably) leaning over each other’s fences and talking to one another. Did one say to the other, “Hey, how’d you get your grass so green? I wish mine was as green as yours!” And did the other say something like, “You’re kidding me! Your grass is way greener than mine!” (and really meaning it, too). Until one of them (the wiser one) said something like, “Welp, I guess the grass is always greener on the other side.” Or, did the saying come about from shepherds? Maybe watering their sheep one day and looking over at the other side of the stream to think, “Hey! The grass over there seems greener.” And so they move their entire herd over across the river only to realize that the grass on this side is, in fact, not greener. And then they look back across to where they came from and think “Never mind, the grass on the side we were on is way greener.” And so on and so forth until someone finally said, “The grass is always greener.”

Who knows. Regardless, trying to find green grass ruined him. He ended up in the looney bin one day, no joke. Always going on about how much better things were in the 1400s. And one day, whilst talking to another patient inside the loony bin, a patient who wished he was normal and on the outside and in the real world, he said to the patient that very thing, “I guess the grass is always greener.” And he laughed so hard he pissed himself.

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Christmas Blues

 

He had to work the day after Christmas. It was cruel. Grotesque. Unfair. Gone were the college and school days of two weeks off for Christmas. Unmet too was the normal adult vacation days you would receive as you got older. He was now in limbo.

He woke up with the darkness. He lied in bed. Tried to shake the heaviness off. The world awaited him far away. He was still holed up in a cave, a womb of blankets and post-sleep weariness and possibly post-partum depression caused by the baby Jesus. Was he in a coma? Was he in a world far away? Was he in a cabin in the tundra, where snowdrifts piled up on the outside log walls creating an insulated sound? Was there a fireplace? He hoped so. But he could not hear it.

His wife had to work too. She was already gone. Left at 8:30 this morning. He was going to work from home. But as he lay there he knew that if he worked from home he would only feel the darkness more, probably end up spending the majority of his day looking at boobs on a computer screen. So he left for work. Put his pants on.

It wasn’t too bad. He had his dog and his cigarettes to keep him company. He had after all been expecting this. The post-Christmastime darkness. It was inevitable. All the build up and shiny lights and sparkly presents. The joyful nature in the air. The sense of peace and joy and being with loved ones. The days following were no match. After December there was quite the lull in days to look forward to. In the fall there was Thanksgiving and then Christmas and then New Years. But in January, what was there in the future? Easter? Columbus day? Valentines Day? Those were all pretty shitty holidays compared to Christmas. Not much time off either.

Even New Years wasn’t that good. In fact, he thought of New Years as the most anti-climactic night in history. Nothing happened. You drank champagne. Watched a ball drop from the sky. It was always disappointing. One night in high school he had snuck out to go to a party on New Years Eve. He never went to parties but he decided that he needed to go to at least one raging high school party before he graduated. He didn’t drink much. I mean, he knew how to drink, he just didn’t do it much. The guilt of lying to his parents and telling them he was spending the night at Adams almost made the party unbearable. He would have to get drunk. So that night he got drunk and wandered around and realized he didn’t know people as well as he thought he was. He tried to fit in. Who knows if he did a good job. It was pretty boring actually. Movies and T.V. have a way of making high school and college parties look epic. He had never been to one of these. Mostly it was just crowded. Sure, there were drunk people and the random girl who would kiss you but that was about it. Maybe he lived in the wrong places. The girl he liked, who had invited him to this party, kept ignoring him and everyone else said the same thing to him, “I didn’t know you drank!” Eventually he met some snowboarders and they offered to get him high, which he did, in the back of a green jeep. He had never been drunk and high. He felt like he was walking on the moon. He even tried to jump down the gravel road like there was no gravity. Then he got sick and stared at a wall for an indiscernible amount of time while everyone gathered to watch some “ball” drop. And this was one of the more memorable New Years Eves. He couldn’t even remember what he did last year.

He knew that the days after Christmas would simply feel empty. Not too much more than usual. But slightly. He couldn’t take time off. Not just because he was American and addicted to work, but because he was the owner of a small business. As the owner of a small business you don’t get days off. Very rarely. His only comfort was that, as the owner of a small business, perhaps one day he would receive the accolades of fame, glory, and hundred dollar bills, or an early retirement that might await him at the end of this venture. Otherwise what was it all for?

He didn’t know if he wanted to sleep or drink or watch movies or what. He should probably exercise. Work might actually feel good. Make him feel as if he was doing something.

His chemical pill was in his black jean coin pocket. He knew if he swallowed it with a glass of water it would make him feel dizzy. But if he didn’t take it he would go down a dark rabbit hole.

 He had to make this decision every day. Whether or not he wanted to feel the dizziness or the darkness. Some days he chose dizzy. Some days darkness.

He felt empty. Dizzy. Probably had to do with his relationship with The Father. Or The Mother. Or The Son. Or lack thereof.

He counted the days left. He was twenty-five. If he lived to be eighty that would be fifty-five years of life. 55 X 365=20,075 days left on this earth. Twenty-thousand and seventy-five days left.

Oh god, working the day after Christmas is so depressing. 

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Life Without Filter Part II

I had one simple goal in mind when taking these pictures: to present life as ordinary as possible. To take pictures of all the things that consume our day but are not particularly interesting. To look at computer screens, office spaces, roads, cooking, T.V. screens etc. When I took the first picture my photographer friends Mike and Cole told me that the picture was crooked, saying something about “horizons.” I told them that I didn’t care. But they told me, out of either injury to their particular field of work or to simply give me advice, that you could still take bland pictures that weren’t crooked. So after the first one I tried harder to hold the camera upright. However, I did not manipulate the lighting, filter, or placement of such photos. I wanted them to exist in stark representation to the manipulation of appearance, because the manipulation of appearance was the essential point, i.e. how we manipulate and alter our appearance and image through technology.

The photo’s you’ll see are awful and not interesting in the least bit, or at the very least not very interesting.  My friends Mike and Cole could have done a photo project where they take pictures of bland or ordinary or mundane things, but since they’re awesome photographers they could still make them look “cool” in the gritty and low-fi sort of way. I wanted to represent life in its most ordinary and uninteresting state.

 

A couple thoughts: my house looks very yellow in all the pictures. It might have something to do with the yellow walls or the poor lighting, who knows. I debated about whether or not to take pictures of colorful trees wondering if they were too “pretty.” But then I decided that it would be dishonest to not take a picture of them since they were a part of my day while going for a run and I wasn’t going out of my way per say to try and find beautiful images of fall. The one time I took a picture of myself I immediately noticed a reflex in which my hands jumped up to straighten my hair. I had to forcefully shake off the desire to comb my hair and I also had to consciously think about how my face would look as it does throughout most of the day, not particularly sad, but not particularly happy either.

Part of me wishes the images were grittier or more low-fi but that would have required a certain amount of manipulation. In fact, another thing I noticed while scrolling through the images is that as much as they are ordinary and uninteresting I still feel a particular since of gratitude while viewing the photos. My life, I found myself thinking, is pretty good. But then it caused me to question whether the act of taking photo’s itself isn’t manipulation. Because photo’s (even mundane ones) like movies or ad’s still present a “compression” of life that is not accurate in a time/experience sort of way. Although all the photo’s were literally things I was either doing or noticed throughout the day with no going out of my way to capture certain images, I wondered if the recording of life itself causes one to view life unrealistically. In the best possible sense photo’s capture memories. Memories than can give us nostalgia or feelings of warmth and happiness. Some of the photo’s I took did this—such as pictures of nature or my wife or dog—but others warranted no emotional reaction at all—such as images of computer screens. Which cause me to think that technology can exist in the best possible way—such as to provide us with memories of past or meaningful events—or, in the case of movies, to present us with an inspiring or challenging narrative that cause us to engage with life. And yet, technology can also exist in the worst possible way providing unrealistic images and worldviews that damage our souls. Much of this thought process was based on a troubling Vanity Fair article entitled “Friends With Benefits,” where Nancy Jo Sales explores how social media and sex are influencing young women. Check out the article here: http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2013/09/social-media-internet-porn-teenage-girls.

 

Once again, the point is not the pictures, they’re remarkably bland. But rather questioning in what ways we live a life with filter. 

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