Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Record | Broken Record

Two different people can sing the same words.

One person can sound true (genuine and authentic).
The other can sound false (fake and contrived).

If anything, that’s proof mere words don’t define truth.

If Bush and Obama read the same words, who do you believe?

Words sounding rehearsed – no longer ring true.

Words sounding repeated – no longer feel original.

SAMO = Same ol shit (Basquiat's tag in New York)

One can sound faded – no longer borrowing an ear.

* * *

If you sing it as if you've learned it too well
been there, done that
(too much)—
not much disbelief is left to suspend.

In that regard, there's no difference
if the voice is a mainstream “brand”
or an alternative unknown.

Similar or opposite views—even uniqueness—
matter less than feeling refreshed.
Only resonation causes a resounding response.
Only inspiration begets inspiration.

* * *
As a writer, I experienced my first crisis,
while taking a piss.

Next to me another writer was taking a piss.
This was no pissing match.

I idolized his experience.
I considered him the top journalist in town.

He had investigated Canada’s most deadly crime
and knew it better than any outsider.
Inside out.

I don’t recall exactly what I had asked,
but I never forgot the answer.

It might have been:
How do you do it day in, day out?

His tone answered:
I don’t.

His words: “Every story is the same.
You just change the names
and fill in the blanks.”

* * *

My excitement for journalism ended that day. My way of life never use to be a template. I started to notice how my amateur work was edgier—more refreshing to read over.

I had more time to reflect, more freedom to explore. Words were more powerful.

* * *
This doesn’t just happen to writing. You can see it in almost any passionate craft. Serializing work commercially runs the risk of sounding like a broken record.

French concept: people gather to hear a speech that elevates the mind.

If a formula, brand, method or style – no matter how large/small the audience or unique the identity – becomes a form of brainwashing, its truth diminishes.

Words ring less true when automatic or instant.

It might be news but it’s not new anymore.

It be might be news but it makes no history.

* * *
At the same time, what might not be news can be new.

* * *
I never thought Beast of Burden
could be sung well ever again.

Not even in jazz.

Mick Jagger over sang it. So did Bette Middler.
The radio over played it. Others, who later sung it,
met deaf ears.

Then one day, recently, Jersey fans were shocked when this man randomly dropped by the Stone Pony in Asbury Park.

Even jaded Rolling Stone magazine was refreshed.
The way this man played it,
the way he sung it, made you
press “replay.”

This man had never played it before live (putting it all on the line).
And, of all people, it was Bruce Springsteen.
The Boss had returned to the club that spawned him.

* * *
My writing stagnated for the longest time. My voice was lost. I ended up just writing finance or business stories as a substitute.

(not in public view)

Portrait of That Artist. That Artist, Remember?
That one who made a difference.

In essence, I’d stopped writing for 10 years. I dabbled as a public scribe only once in that decade: Publishing a story on the world’s largest sports agency IMG.

I got older.

* * *
Then one day, with my kid an ocean away,
I started musing over how she had just turned

A woman before me was 20. I asked her what it was like from 8 to 20.

In unadulterated honesty, she told me everything.
She didn’t even censor herself.
It was the best interview I’d ever done.

Like a muse, her pure honesty awakened something inside of me.
Suddenly, I found my voice again
– that edge.

Her story showed me one discovers everything
for the first time before turning 20.
Everything is new.

I started writing new. I started seeing new.

words reflected a person in front of me

Pages came out for a book.
Even the format was new.
To be a reader:
you had to be a character in the book.

She agreed I could share her story:
A time capsule for my child to open at age 20.

* * *

I had to write one on one to everyone in the book.
I was even writing to my daughter.
She'd one day see this in the future
(when all my mistakes, misunderstandings and hypocritical acts would be revealed).

When I had a million readers, no one cared as much.

They moved on the next day.
I didn’t know them.
They didn’t know me.

Words didn't matter as much.

Like it was written in snow, and melted the next day.

When you write for a person you know, that person remembers the next day, and days to come. Maybe even for a lifetime.

When you see the reader the next day –
the truth about what you write is challenged
(without a word being said).

* * *
In writing, I’ve never been so uneasy. Whereas before, everything was too easy. The reader was invisible.

In 2006, Facebook had yet to cultivate instantaneous publishing to virtual friends. Today, you just press a button and don’t have to see anyone.

A blogger seldom speaks to one person in the crowd.

* * *

With so many online friends, one might lose count.

One’s voice might stop being one on one
(and instead be one-to-many).
One might even sound like the monotony of a parent or priest
(I catch myself sometimes).

* * *
What got sparked by that 20-year-old still rings true. If you write for ONE person, it might be misunderstood by millions, but it may inspire many.

If the object is CHANGE - the best way to do it is ONE person at a time. A voice rings more true one on one.

Like a hand-written letter a person is surprised to get.

With this in mind, you can start to write what you can never write for 1 million people.

* * *
Ironically, this is also how
I’ve seen inspirational personalities

gain 20 million followers
(a “movement” starts).

But I’m not sure what one does after that happens.

I think one becomes trapped in a game.
There’s gamesmanship between true self and industry self.
Disclaimer: I was once married to a celebrity.

* * *
P.S. In journalism, they say, avoid self-indulgence. Refrain from using “I” to appear objective. Yet public attention is the greatest form of self-indulgence “I” know.

When one is not self-indulgent, the music just takes you away. You can’t tell the dancer from the dance. You only see one person in the crowd.


X said...
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X said...

Even an ear can return to the edge - and listen for new things. Yesterday i heard Beast of Burden on the radio by Mick Jagger and it sounded better. Only after someone else renewed my ear for it