a weird malaise having something to do with ben hecht and kevin smith

It’s 1:30 p.m. on Friday, I’ve gotta go into work at 5:00, and I’m at American Social having a beer—which I shouldn’t be doing, cuz it’s gonna make me lethargic and sluggish, but I’m also feeling a weird malaise that I think has something to do with last night’s encounter, at a family gathering, where my brother pissed me off for like the dozenth time in a week. But also I went to Pasion this morning at 8 a.m., wrote three pages in the fiction thing and then three decent-sized blog posts, and then I left for lunch at Power Pizza on Brickell and now I’m at American Social…ahdunno. I’ve got this feeling unhappy transience. Something to do, maybe, with working and working but not really getting things done. Not hitting benchmarks.

            At the pizza parlor I listening to the latest episode of Smodcast, wherein Kevin Smith talks about what a momentous year he’s had: Clerks was entered into the national film registry, he released Jay & Silent Bob Reboot, got a gig working on Howard the Duck and Masters of the Universe, did a fuck ton of podcasting, wrote Clerks III, directed some TV shows, went on the roadshow with his movie.


Part of what feels so wholesome about Clerks being entered into the National Film Registry is that, as Smith puts it, he feels sentimental and happy for his 24-year-old self, taking the initiative to risk everything on making some silly movie; the fact that that kid’s dream project was still being talked about, celebrated, honored twenty-five years later. Kinda gives me hope.

            This is the kinda year I wanna have—I mean obviously it’s unreasonable to say that I want to enjoy the sort of prosperity, the bounty of opportunities, of somebody who’s been working hard in his industry for a quarter-century, but I mean that I wanna be able to look back on a host of achievements: podcast, short stories, essays, diary posts, movie reviews, novels, interviews.

            I heard Adina Hoffman on KCRW’s Bookworm last week (in conversation with one of my personal heroes, Michael Silverblatt) and she was promoting her new biography of the writer Ben Hecht—whom David Remnick would call a real Person of Letters. Dude wrote poetry, screenplays, novels—and then, for a long period of time, he was writing a column called A Thousand and One Afternoons in Chicago (here’s a link to the free ebook): small portraits of different people he encountered across the city. Hecht published a new one every single day for ahdunno how many years. A while. Sometimes he felt good about his work and sometimes he didn’t. But it was a regular voice in the paper, and people enjoyed it.

            As Silverblatt says in the conversation, Hecht comes from a time “when writers wrote.”

            There was none of this business of disappearing for five or seven years to work on one gargantuan novel.

            I downloaded a collection of choice pieces from One Thousand and One Afternoons in Chicago, started reading it yesterday, and it’s terrific. Some of it is a bit purple, cuz he clearly didn’t have anything to write about and so he just described the fog or the skyline or something, but I’m so enchanted by the thought of somebody being able to know, as they walked along their driveway to pick up the newspaper at dawn, that there was this voice waiting to greet them on the front page with some little vignette of their city.

            But yeah: I wanna leave a lotta work behind, I wanna be consistent and disciplined, and but for all that I’m writing, recording, posting—it doesn’t feel like I’m doing anything.

            Not sure what’s going on here.

Kinda don’t feel like anything is working out.

Hence: malaise.

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