Wednesday, November 27, 2013

How To Contact Me

Seems appropriate to put this information somewhere on this page, so here I chuck it against the glorious wall:

Twitter (@GoneFiction)
email: ContactDanDonatelli [at] gmail [dot] com
(there's already enough spam going to that account)

Be well.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Butterfly In The Sky...

And so the cannon has fired. Presently my body is rocketing up into the atmosphere, with the heat at my feet cooling the farther I get from the ground. The air is screaming past my ears, my eyes are two bugged-out planets, and my stomach feels like it's still in the cannon. 

This was all intentional.

And now is when it gets difficult.

All my life I have been packing black powder into that cannon below, and at the same time I've been building myself a wing-suit for when that spent powder brought me up to where I felt I needed to go.

I'm up there now. I'm up here now.

I woke up this morning and realized that that's where I am: I am hitting the moment where I will find out if my invention can hold and sustain flight, or if I will crash back into the ocean.

Source: @Earth_Pics

But right now it's the atmosphere and my wing-suit. I still have a bit of control, but it ain't much, and I'm still trying to figure out that part of it myself. 

At the age of 12 I fully realized that I needed to be a writer (I don't know how it happened, only that it did). But I also realized that I'm not a hyper-genius, so I would have to work myself to exhaustion if I ever wanted to create beauty like the beauty that so inspired me. And I did just that—worked myself to exhaustion.

After college, I went to work as a proofreader because I had been relatively unimpressed with my university education, which made Grad School seem like one of the most expensive jokes in the world, and conversely I didn't want to write about peach pie recipes for a magazine that was about to go bankrupt, so I reasoned to myself that until I truly developed my literary abilities, I simply couldn't have the artistic autonomy necessary to avoid having this thing I love so much—writing—feel like something I was cruelly whoring out.

But six years later my proofreading decision left me feeling like I set out to be the pilot and ended up being the person who handled the airplane's sewage.

(So many metaphors!)

Now, I've been blasted out of a cannon, and instead of trying to pilot a plane via traditional publishing, I'm in a wing-suit and on a prayer that this crazy thing I invented myself can fly twice as high and be even more liberating than the options that existed before.

It has a (fairly low) chance of working. And what possibly helps is that, although they're both blue, it should soon be very easy to figure out if I'm ultimately bound for the ocean or the sky.

We'll see.

It's all very exciting, but Jesus Christ am I terrified.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Divine Comedy: Cleveland Sports

We're all already dead.

Cleveland's sports teams are complete shit. That much is fairly well known. But what I want to talk about today is the fact that the situation in Cleveland has devolved to the point that Cleveland fans have actually reached the intersection of Shit and Ubiquity.

Otherwise known as Hell.

The reality is so giant and real that I'm just going to fire shotgun-blasts of thought at the wall of this page, and with any luck we'll have a moving piece of art when it's over.

Pablo Picasso's "Brownica."

Cleveland's teams are shit because the organizations are incompetent. They don't know how to choose players, they don't know how to refine player talents, and they don't know how to use those players when it counts. (They choose players at the top of the draft, and then the next year they choose players at the top of the draft, and then the next year they choose players at the top of the draft....)

I barely ever hang out with my friends to watch Cleveland sports anymore, because it's miserable to feel like hanging out with your friends is somehow bringing bad luck to the teams you're cheering for. 

Obviously that's not the reason, but at least my brain can't stop making associations like that. And frankly even if it weren't like that, it's just not fun to cheer for something that plainly and obviously sucks.

But it's not even just the teams!

I could handle it if the teams were terrible but we had a really smart, snappy press corps that could have a lot of fun with literal decades of futility, but instead we have Mary Kay Cabot and Terry Pluto, who might as well be on the Browns' PR payroll, Paul Hoynes the toothless baseball reporter, nobody at all covering the Cavs, and a bunch of other stiffs who've affixed tape recorders to the pom-poms they carry around for the various garbage teams.

On the radio (92.3 The Fan) we have this daily lineup: 6:00am–10:00am Two Humorless Grouchy Old Fucks; 10:00am–2:00pm Two Insanely Boring Fucks; 2:00pm–7pm Two Criminally Stupid Fucks; and 7:00pm–midnight The Hoofs And Snouts That Remain.

The Grouchy Fucks could suck the fun out of a Thai massage; the Boring Fucks make the Grouchy Fucks seem like Mel Brooks and Howard Stern; the Stupid Fucks make me cringe the moment they start talking; and the Hoofs And Snouts is probably the best show on the station—highlighting the truly bizarre upper-level decision-making at whatever piece-of-shit media monstrosity owns that pathetic radio franchise.

And then on AM radio we have the fairly likeable Tony Rizzo and the contemptuously smug Aaron Goldhammer. Their show is actually decent for the 45 seconds per radio hour that aren't dedicated to advertisements about window installation.

The only saving grace is the blog presence. Cleveland has some pretty great sports blogs—I often frequent and and a few others that still need to step up their game if they want me to mention them by name—and really even that is indicative of something that is true of most things in America these days: The overpaid establishment is an unambiguous disappointment, and the piteously underpaid independent organizations are the only things keeping the rickety house of cards from turning into a flat pile of jokers.

Speaking of which, here's a brief look at the flat pile of rich jokers here in Cleveland:

Larry and Paul Dolan—Owners of the Cleveland Indians (a city named after a man who deserted the city, and a team named that way because Christopher Columbus erroneously labeled the N. American natives as people from a country that was actually 15,000 miles away)—I know very little about these two men other than that they have proven to be cheap and uncreative—the worst of both worlds for a smaller-market team. I would wish for them to sell the franchise, but the new boss is inevitably the same as the old boss here in C-town.

Chris Antonetti—General Manager of the Cleveland Indians—is part of a team structure that has traded away the only three players it drafted in the past 20 years who turned out to be any good. All season long I was told to go (drive through the ongoing speed-trap in every sector of every predatory-cop-laden quadrant of the greater Cleveland area) to the aging ballpark and cheer on a team that beat all the bad teams and lost to all the good teams. "C'mon, folks, get a speeding ticket on the way to the ballpark, then search for $20 parking, ignore all the dead businesses and the fact that you don't have a job either, then make your way to your seat and watch an aging Nick Swisher do an on-field, in-game rehab on his tender shoulder."

Terry Francona—Manger of the Cleveland Indians—is already the greatest executive we've had in Cleveland in my entire life.

Dan Gilbert—Owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers (a team named after a synonym for lazy indifference)—once wrote a fan-inspiring, fiery open letter after the Whore Of Akron decided he wanted to fuck Cuban men in Miami—in fucking pink Comic Sans. I am one of the world's foremost defenders of that letter, but every day I have less respect for Dan Gilbert, who now seems to be a vacuum cleaner sucking up every cent he can from the cities of Cleveland and Detroit via fan-exploitation and the gambling addictions of those cities' aging populations.

Chris Grant—General Manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers—took two #1 overall picks and two #4 overall picks and turned them into the kind of trainwreck that isn't even interesting to look at.

Mike Brown—Coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers—was a disappointment when he coached in Cleveland, so they brought him back.

Jimmy Haslam—Owner of the Cleveland Browns (a team named after a man who was fired by the team that was named after him)—either knew what was going on at Pilot Flying J, and is therefore a terrible leader, or had no idea what was going on at Pilot Flying J, and is therefore a terrible leader.

Joe Banner/Mike Lombardi—President/General Manager of the Cleveland Browns—are men it is hard to like. Joe Banner clearly thinks he could have been Einstein's tutor (except Banner doesn't seem to remember that his Eagles never won a Super Bowl and ended up turning into a diarrhea salad by the time he left), and Mike Lombardi, as far as I can tell, is Joe Banner's Yes Man, if he's even still alive anymore.

Rob Chudzinski—Coach of the Cleveland Browns—is the Coach of the Cleveland Browns.

So it looks to me like the pits of Hell have quite a ways to go before we hit the fun trampolines at the bottom, like Boston did, and spring our way up to the Heavens of Obnoxiousness.

For now, on the long way down, I can see Anthony "Captain Fatty Garbage Truck" Bennett coming into sight, and it looks like a demon is feeding him two of those Elvis sandwiches!

By this point, I honestly don't know how many championships it would take to get the smell of sulfur out of my nose.

I think I stick with it all because it is a truly divine comedy—50 years of blind squirrels starving to death.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Another Thin Slice Of The History Of Life

Hoping to even things out after the emo bloodchug of my previous post, I'd now like to take a few moments to narrate one of the great small moments of my life—I'm trying to rollercoaster myself to even. In sum, it's a fairly insignificant moment, and yet it's something I cherish in a way that's almost sacred.

I am a huge fan of the athleticism of the human animal, and as a Throwist I consider myself somewhat of a maven in the field of human athletics, and it is because of those two things that I fundamentally love to play a good game of catch. It is athleticism and concentration and communication all at once, and it is because of that love that I went up to this dude I didn't know at a lawn-darts tournament in Denver three years ago and asked him for a hit from the joint he was smoking (when in Rome, eh?) as a way of breaking the ice, in order to ask him about the football I'd seen him tossing around before.

I was at the Jarts tournament as the guest of some friends who live in Denver—I was spending a few days there on one of my moves across the country—and the dude was there with his wife or girlfriend and some other friends on a road trip. I could tell they were from Kansas City because nearly all of them had at least one piece of KC Royals apparel on.

And I'm not even sure if I said anything, actually, about the football itself—it was more like hooking up with a chick at a party. I nodded in the direction of a wide-open part of the park, away from where the tournament was being held, and he smirked and started heading in that direction with the football.

The friends I'd gone there with were talking to people they knew—girls who'd already given me the wordless rejection of subtle indifference, which had caused me to look around in search of the weed smell in the first place—so I followed the dude into the field, away from the trees, and started playing catch with this guy whose name I didn't know.

Most of the time when I try to play catch with someone, it actually kind of sucks, because I have a rocket laser moon cannon for a right arm, and most people have little dinky pop guns (it's no coincidence that my best friend growing up also had a rocket laser moon cannon for a right arm), so oftentimes when I get to play catch it's just an awful lot of me holding back and merely challenging myself with intentionally off-balance throws.

But this dude could chuck it!

Pretty soon there was this wordless communication between us, like a wavelength recognized and cherished, and after a few minutes we were both firing piss missiles (to quote one of my college roommates) to each other over exhilarating distances.

He appeared to be around my age—late twenties, early thirties, our bodies rounded by desk jobs—and consequently we were both winded fairly quickly, and we also had upcoming games in the tournament, so we started winding down our transcontinental chucking, but as always before a game of catch is over I started backing up to see just how much chucking we both brought to the table, so I fired him the ball over a pretty fun distance, but only about an 80% throw, giving myself some room to start jogging in such a way that would let the dude put everything he had into his throw, so I started jogging away from him, and he wound up and fired, and I followed the ball's trajectory into the air and saw that indeed this dude was a fellow Throwist, and I started booking as absolutely fast as I could run. 

I was in a full sprint, and while I was watching the flight of the ball I was also thinking to myself that I was reaching the far end of the open field, where there were lots of trees, and it occurred to me that I might've been unknowingly running straight towards a big tree while looking over my shoulder for ball.

I did not care—for some reason, I would've rather died than not catch that throw.

So I kept dashing on the grass—knees, trees, health be damned!—and yet sadly I soon recognized that my sprinting looked like it was going to be all for naught: There was just no way that I would be able to bring my hands up to a pragmatic, far-enough angle to catch this insanely well-thrown ball.

But it's like they say: You're only defeated when you admit it.

I decided to go for it, so I reached out with my right hand and batted the ball back up into the air, at which point my sprinting form fell apart, and I immediately started falling to the ground, but at the very last moment I was able to pull the now-floating ball to my chest and roll out all my momentum on the summer grass.

I caught it! So I stood up, excitedly held the ball up to show the guy, and we both jumped up and down in the air, on two separate sides of a big field, like children.

There was no topping that moment, so we started heading back to the tournament, and when we reached the tree where we'd first smoked the joint, the dude's wife or girlfriend said to me, "Hey, nice throwin', Brett Favre!" The dude's beloved must have been a Packers fan, because he said to her, "Did you not see that catch? Babe, not only is he Brett Favre; he's also Donald Driver!"

I laughed and wished them all well and rejoined my friends for the start of our match. I never got the dude's name or anything, but that Royals gear has made me think about something over the years:

When I was 16, I played in the USA Junior Olympics, and I pitched against a team called the KC Cats, who ended up finishing third overall. I lost to them, but it was a great game—something like 4 to 3—and anyway I like to think that that dude was on that team, and that maybe we'll see each other again in the future, on yet another field, where we'll once again chuck piss missiles all over the place like the little kids we are sometimes.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Desire, Jealousy, And Indifference

Witness one of the tragic ballets churning to a toneless red froth in the blender of my head:

My desire for a life of total authorial autonomy and an anxiety-lessening financial security has resulted in what feels like my having taken Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hours and turned it into a light warm-up. 

I have taken the measly lawnmower motor of my mind and tried to polish and oil its every crucial piece and mechanism, and every moment of that painstaking and laborious process has been in service of what I've always considered a virtuous existential goal.

All of it was fueled by my desire to create interesting and beautiful art.

But fuel is volatile, and one of the unintentional atmospheric hazards of that fuel is that often it sparks an inferno of jealousy inside of myself. Seemingly all day long I read about some woman who's probably younger than I am who wins the Man Booker Prize, or some guy around my age who gets $2 million for his debut novel, or some other person who sells a movie or gets a job on a writing staff, and suddenly I wish to douse the inferno I've become with a cooling leap from a very tall bridge.

In a sense, there is no need for me to be jealous, because I have created what I consider interesting and beautiful art, and as so many people have tried to insist to me, isn't that what really counts? (I tell them every time, "Not when you're trying to build a career, it's not.") 

A better question might be, "Why place such a high value on commercial popularity in a culture that so consistently celebrates utter artistic shit?"

And again to me the answer comes down to the fact that the unavoidable reality is that in all cultures a person needs at least some money to survive.

Enter indifference. The indifference of the marketplace so far, that is.

I am all fuel and desire and fire, and the marketplace—the void—emptily stares back.

Oil and water, not space and time.

For the previous 20 years of my life, I was able to use that indifference as a catalyst to create even more desire—fuel to write more and read deeper into the night. Now? The blender is winning, and the indifference makes me jealous of those who've been shown intercontinental love.

This is how I have chosen to make money. If it doesn't work out after this latest and final push to the sun, then the task at hand metamorphoses into my need to figure out how to dilute the noxious fuel of my desire and live a life away from the guiding light of my retired ambitions. Frankly, I am as comfortable not having anything on the marketplace as I am having books on the marketplace (I only ever published them because I need money and thought they would sell—I am already inwardly validated about their quality), so the real question, which I can't seem to answer or surmount, is, "If my life must have a daily master over most of its time again, to what worthwhile labor shall I give hold of these precious reins?"

Right now, everything I can think of feels like it would inevitably turn into the sensation of being slowly—agonizingly slowly—choked to death.

So if you ask me how I'm doing and it takes me a moment to answer, that was me drinking another glass of emotional-ballet blood and lying about its taste.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Great Anti-American Novel

Today, November 5, 2013—Election Day—my book The Great Anti-American Novel was formally and officially published.

I have never been more proud of anything in my life. (Full disclosure: I don't have any kids, so that pride comment contains far more truth than hyperbole.)

The book has already been extremely well-reviewed, and the publicity efforts are going stupendously—I am a one-man book factory over here; the surly women at the Post Office collectively grimace when I walk through the door with another clutch of outgoing media mail—and right now it's occurring to me that I am writing this post as a sort of self-congratulations.

I did it.

But it wasn't all me, and I would like to formally and publicly thank the following people for their invaluable contributions to the crafting of my beloved book: Mike Squires (soldier/scholar), Joe Donatelli (journalist/humorist), Stan Malihee (screenwriter/filmmaker), Sarah Minto (housewife/political activist), and Johnny Savage (illiterate/lawyer, haha).

They all read the first draft of the book and provided me with their enormously useful outside perspectives. I am truly lucky to be friends with such intelligent and wisdom-generous people.

So if you're seeing these words, and if you like making good people happy, check out my book to see more of what has already brought me such happiness—a book that has been reviewed and vouched for by wisdom-generous people!