On Not Submitting

It’s an uncomfortable fact with me to be sure, but I haven’t submitted more than a handful of poems in the past several years. There are a couple of reasons for that, but there you are. Oh, I’ve been writing all along; I just haven’t been sending them out. They’ve been piling up in various files for revision, like models on a workshop bench.

It turns out I’m not alone. I have writer friends who are in the same position, it turns out. These people have already been published; but as with me, they’re on pause. Personally, at some point I’d like this to end, but it’ll have to wait until I’m able to retrieve my PC from Toronto (that’s another story).

I’ve been thinking about how my writing life could’ve gotten to this, but these are some of the reasons for it:

At some point, acceptances lost their appeal. I’ve no idea how or why that could’ve happened, but here we are. The happiness just wasn’t there anymore. I used to take real pleasure anytime good news arrived in the mail, but at a certain point, not so much. The process wasn’t fun anymore, either. It felt more like work that no longer satisfied. Just the writing became enough. I’d had the experience of publishing; more and more I wanted to focus on production.

In some ways, I think the blog became a substitute. Instant gratification, I guess. Obviously, I don’t print my own poems here, but these entries give me a different kind of pleasure; in some ways, they scratch the itch.

None of these are justifiable, of course, even if true. They do, however, help explain the sequence of events that brought me here. Here’s the funny thing, though—submitting poems is easier than ever now, with online magazines, submission programs of various kinds, etc. That means none of us have reason to not try. Once I get my life reorganized out here in L.A., it’s time to get underway again. At least, I hope to.

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The Recklessness of Rob Ford

I would be very curious to see how good Rob Ford is at poker. Really. He doesn’t mind doubling down on stupid. Here is Toronto’s mayor trying to deny he smokes crack. He’s already resorted to some cockamamie story about a twin brother (besides Doug) who’s a crack addict. But oh, no. That couldn’t be Rob.

OK. We all know that Ford’s become a worldwide laughing stock. Late-night comics are feasting on the story. After all, it has everything, doesn’t it? I’m personally glad the Star chose not to pay a drug dealer for the video; realistically, the cops should have it and let the law decide whether to prosecute Ford. Until then, this is all conjecture and the mayor’s going to go right on denying these charges.

He knows he can.

This is recklessness of the highest order. He doesn’t mind walking on the edge of the blade, that’s for certain. In a way, it’s a little frightening to watch, because clearly we’re seeing someone’s all-too-public self-destruction live in the media, across all our platforms. If Ford wasn’t so arrogant, I’d feel badly for him. But his over-confidence has brought him to this place, so in some ways maybe he’s getting what he deserves.

Honestly, the man needs to resign but I’m betting he won’t. He believes that much in himself. Meanwhile, his political life is on fire like Rome whether he know it or not. If he goes down, goes to jail, don’t be a bit surprised. He’s about to find out he’s not made of Teflon.

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Notes On the Class of the 2014 NASCAR HoF

OK. I’ll admit it. Every damn time NASCAR announces its Hall inductees, I cry like a child. I’m just emotional that way as I age. Oh, well. Every year, the choices become more difficult; now that all of the Petty clan have been inducted, etc., we begin to dig much deeper into the history of this sport. For example, one of the potential names was no less than Wendell Scott. On Speed Mike Joy said there was much debate on Scott’s behalf (I wanted him to get in myself, and one day he will because everyone on the nominees’ list will one day get in). Another was Joe Weatherly who absolutely will get in next year; in fact, I’ll go out on a low limb here and say he’ll lead next year’s class. I really mean that.

Tim Flock: OK, I did not like the idea of Jocko Flocko because I never blindly believe animals truly consent to such things but instead are coerced. Still, nothing takes away from Flock’s talent nor his abilities as an ambassador for the sport after his retirement. To his death, he was a marvelous representative in all ways. In his later years, he was a kind of barker for ticket sales, and would always regale fans with his legend. He deserved to brag.

Maurice Petty: The Chief. To again quote Mike Joy, his numbers exceed Richard’s (so do Dale Inman’s). Now the entire group has been enshrined. I just wonder what Winston Kelley will do in terms of the diorama for Maurice. It’ll be cool, be sure of that.

Dale Jarrett: And now we have another father and son in the Hall. Much of the impulse for DJ must be his smooth and graceful transition to media where he’s done so much to advance NASCAR’s cause, but then there are those Daytona wins, etc., etc. He deserves it, too.

Jack Ingram: I wept over this one for sure. He is the definition of old-school Southern short-track racers. If I was on a team and saw his pull into the pits, I’d start wondering how much second-place paid. The car that’s already in the Hall is an original piece Ingram and his old crew built specifically for display purposes, which means they could go back racing anytime Jack was ready.

Glenn “Fireball” Roberts: His nickname of course came from a previous career as a pitcher. He would clearly have been good, probably would’ve made it to the majors. Instead, he devoted himself to NASCAR, where he excelled. His death at Charlotte in 1964 was one more scar in a year of horrible deaths in racing. It’s Pyrrhic that the fuel cell was developed in part in the wake of his death as it is that the HANS device came about as a result of Dale Sr.’s death, but the main thing is his career. As people have been saying all day, it’s about the numbers.

With that said, just wait until next year. That’ll be fun, too. And from here on out….

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Notes on Rob Ford, Toronto’s Joke of a Mayor

Is it me, or has this man finally gone too far? I well remember when he was elected; I was living there then, and simply could not believe that this obvious buffoon had actually won. His tenure to his point’s been even worse than I’d imagined. He’s proven to be a humiliation for the city that can so ill-afford it.

Now we have a scandal involving a video of Ford allegedly smoking crack. OK, I’m not surprised. He’s a reckless man by nature, and clearly doesn’t give a damn what people think about him. But this….had the substance being used had been weed, I wouldn’t be all that offended. After all, he did get pulled over by a cop in Florida who discovered a joint on his person. But apparently (allegedly) we’re talking about crack here. That’s a totally different animal.

On a larger scale, it’s all of a piece with his general behavior. He’s boorish and thoroughly over-confident in his ability to get by with whatever he feels like. And now Stewart and Colbert weigh in. Now, when people think of Toronto, they’ll think of Rob Ford smoking crack. Allegedly.

I’m also offended by the people around Ford, who brush off reporters’ questions as though they lack the right to ask. They remind me of Nixon’s “palace guard,” all equally corrupt and vindictive as their boss. What does this say about the overall tenor of the Mayor’s office? I’m afraid to imagine.

Rob Ford is a colossal embarrassment. He should resign immediately before he’s thrown out.

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Notes on the Life and Death of Dick Trickle

You could’ve knocked me over with nothing when I first read this:

Also, here’s the Wikipedia piece concerning his bio and record. You’ll find more, but suffice to say his resumé is hard to equal.

To say I’m a fan of his would be pretty accurate. He was always that much more equal, one could say, on the track. And his legend of course extends off the track. He had a formula for how much he could party and still be in race shape: one hour’s sleep for every 100 laps. No one ever doubted that, either.

It cost him, over time. He developed medical issues, but I thought he was coming back from that. I guess he knew something his fan base didn’t. Whatever it was, was enough to bring him to suicide. I don’t want to speculate on the specific reasons, though. I want to respect the man.

I saw him win the Florida 200 In 1978 in utterly dominating fashion. At one point he had to deal with a lapped car by tapping him ever so softly coming out of turn four, then a little harder each time, until finally the driver let him pass. He didn’t want to wreck him, just “get his attention.” After the race he talked with a group of us for a long while; everybody knew this guy was definitely something special. That time I will never forget.

Maybe he should already have been in NASCAR by then; even when he finally did make the transition, he still won. He beat drivers half his age. Special? You betcha. He never got the equipment he truly needed on the Cup level, but on the Busch side he owns 2 wins, and you have to know (I repeat) that the Woods were right.

Still, the man wanted to enjoy his life. Which clearly he did, for the most part. He did not want to be told what to do and not do, and in that sense his life is an immense success. He lived on his own terms. He died the same way. Maybe like you, I have my questions. I’m not going to ask them right now. What story there is will become public, probably, but to be honest I don’t want to think about all that. The fact of his death by itself is already more than enough to deal with. But we have to.

I have a number of Trickle photos on my screen saver. Some go all the way back to Heidelberg Raceway in the nineteen-sixties, back before the SuperAmerica sponsorship. I remember seeing him the first time, and thought “He traveled a long way to get here.” It was a reminder that the Pittsburgher 200 was in fact a big deal. Trickle did a lot to confirm that.

Consider this: A conservative estimate would be that he won a thousand features during his career; some give him as much as sixteen hundred, although that has been called into question. However, consider this: Trickle raced in a region where tracks operated in a fairly cooperative manner, meaning that some operators would run their weekly shows on a weekday night (today that would be considered a terrible business model). Trickle hit them all, so….a thousand isn’t out of the question at all. We rightly respect Richard Petty for his 200 Cup wins, but Trickle’s win count is also legendary.

So: What might’ve happened had he gone NASCAR earlier? How about a couple of titles? How about a Daytona or two? What would have resulted? We will never know, but he made the choices he made; all the same, I’m convinced the racing world knows what he would’ve done had he made his move into NASCAR, say, in 1976 after his phenomenal 67-win season the year before. I wonder if anyone else will ever come close.

This is an absolute shock, his suicide. A lot of us are very sad right now.

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2 Takes on the IRS Story

1) This is as badly handled a series of cases since Fast & Furious. It should’ve been handled completely differently, as in: upfront. “We are going to do this. Be prepared.”

2) IRS should’ve gone both political ways. Both sides commit fouls, so please judge accordingly.

But here’s what I don’t understand—why was there no similar judgment conferred on Dubya’s co-conspirators? I’m just wondering. It’s not like we’ll ever see any of those cocksuckers in jail or anything…

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Entering L.A.? For Real?

Before I came out here, I thought Los Angeles was some imagined place that could not possibly exist. Oh, yes. It does. Sweet people in an often desperate setting. Never did I think I would wind up settling here; Lisa in the next life must be laughing like all hell.

Still, these are the facts. I laugh, too.

For me, a town like this represents all I loathe—the worship of money in particular—but for all that there are good people here who I much respect. Can I live here? Well….there was a temblor the other night; there was a crack in the sky or so it seemed but nothing fell. Happily. Aside from that, we’ll see.

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I Might Well Move To Los Angeles After All

I didn’t want to say this. I didn’t want it to happen. However, my lawyer advises it seems clear my chances of staying in Canada long term have ended, so I’m in the process of taking a decision I did not want to, in moving out here. However, as friends have told me, I’ve gotten more adjusted to life out here over damn near eleven months (I hope so). Maybe the cats can do something similar. We shall see.

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Zappa and DiMeola, “Clownz On Velvet”

I always wondered.

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Mahavishnu Orchestra, “One Word.”

I’m grateful to have seen this band on this tour. If you wonder why I’ve always touted this band, sit back and be thou amazed:

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