Monday, November 21, 2011


…I have a poem, “Alchemy” and story, “Jackknife” up at A Minor Magazine as well as a poem, “New Shoes” up at Steel Toe Review.
All are also here under “Words In Print.”

…In college some years ago, I majored in Poli Sci.
Political Science.
I also majored in English.
I knew I wanted to be a writer but thought I would be a lawyer instead because that seemed smart and practical.
Growing up, a movie that had a big impact on me was “The Paper Chase.” It was about a young buck going to Harvard Law School in the 70’s. Back then, Harvard Law School had the highest suicide rate of any school—law school, normal college, what have you—in the nation. Few people could handle the intense grind necessary for survival.
The main protagonist-“James Hart,” played by Timothy Bottoms--soon discerns that there are three types of students at Harvard:

1.) There are those that will not be able to handle the pressure and so, in a matter of six months or so, they will flunk out, drop out or commit suicide.
2.) The second group will make it, but they will graduate toward the middle or bottom of the class, having done the required work but nothing outside of requisite scope of assignments. They will become lawyers in time, but at small, nondescript firms.
3.) The third group is an elite one. These are the people who do everything required and then some, always tackling the tough projects, always volunteering, never afraid of putting themselves at risk or in jeopardy of embarrassment. This is the group that will get jobs at the top firms. These are the lawyers who will go on to become judges and super successful attorneys. They are the ones who will even end up shaping our judicial system.
I tend to think life is like that—that all people can be divided into three similar stratas.
In the film, James Hart realizes he’s been coasting mid-level and so he decides he’s going to move into the top tier. He’s very serious about making it, too, so serious in fact that he drops his smoking hot girlfriend (Lindsay Wagner! from “The Bionic Woman” fame) because sex with her is too draining. (!!)
That’s how committed he is. He does the work. He makes some blunders. He graduates top of his class. He gets back with Lindsay (of course he does) and the film ends in one of those soaring crescendos that makes the tiny hairs on your scalp prickle.

So out of college, I got a job clerking at a law firm in Seattle. I did that for a year.
What I realized was I’d romanticized the law. It was nothing like what I’d seen on TV. It was nothing like “The Paper Chase.” No one really cared about truth and justice. Their concern was only about how many hours got billed. They only cared about winning cases regardless if their client/position was the right one. And they would win those cases by hook or by crook, let me tell you.
It made me sick.
It made me sick not only for obvious moral reasons, but also because I thought I’d thrown my whole college education in the crapper…
Four years of college…
A year sewing unemployed old men and old grannies…
I thought I was doomed.
And yet, I survived.
I found a job in fashion, which is funny because I never had any money growing up to be fashionable with.
But I gave the job and the industry and the company everything I had. I pushed myself into that third group.
I sold sweaters. I sold neck ties and argyle vests. I unloaded freight and folded shirts and dusted fixtures and set up sales.
I worked hard and did okay.

Over the years, however, I continued to follow politics and government, both, international and national.
I kept myself educated and up to date on current political affairs.
To me, that’s important. And I try not to be cynical when it comes to government. Lord knows there are enough people to take on that task.
I try to think politicians can do good things, make wise decisions, serve the people, drive the nation toward sustainable prosperity…
But I will say, it’s getting harder and harder to believe in government. Every other day provides another reason to think the cynics are correct.
Today is one of those.
After three months of talks, the twelve members of the specially appointed Debt Relief Committee have concluded they can’t come to an agreement on how to ease the financial knot choking our country’s throat.
There’s no solution? No compromise?
Good Lord, are we really doomed?

…Sorry. I just had to rant. I feel better now. Sorry for vomiting all over this page.
Here. Here are a few things to make up for it.

“Dear delusional,
You thought that drinking all weekend would make us go away but we're still here. Happy Monday!
Your Problems”
--Amy Wood

"Mental fight means thinking against the current, not with it. It is our business to puncture gas bags and discover the seeds of truth." Virginia Woolf

"I only require three things of a man: he must be handsome, ruthless and stupid." Dorothy Parker

"Good manners and bad breath will get you nowhere." Elvis Costello


  1. Oh! And somebody keeps pretending he isn't any sort of modeling material!

    I'm mostly off the radar except for posting A-Minor news and completely random things. No blog. No publications to come (except one that's already in the pipeline), and also trying to minimize 'hanging around the writer's group', etc. etc. but I always read your blog posts here and whatever tidbits elsewhere. Just so that you know.

  2. Great post, Len. I love the Woolf quote and then one from Costello. And now I'm going to go use some Listerine.

  3. nicolette--when i was in college i had this modeling gig where i climbed bare-chested in a tree. i think i was supposed to be like, Tarzan, or something. but i had a mustache and feathered hair and i as skinny and looked more like Mark Spitz than anything. that's about all the modeling for me.
    thanks for reading and your support and for just generally being a good person.
    we have to have drinks soon!
    christopher--yes, i'm a quote junkie. always have been. i like the way a patch of words strung together just so can chop you off at the knees.