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The Comedian

[Fiction] On a life in stand-up:

"One time on a talk show, before he made the change in his comedy, the comedian was asked why he started telling jokes. He took a sip from his mug and responded that he just wanted some attention. As a child he’d felt unseen. He was a handsome baby (photographs confirm) but his impression was that no one cooed at him or went cross-eyed to make him smile. Common expressions of affection, such as loving glances, approving grins, and hearty that-a-boys, eluded him. His mother told him 'Hush, now,' when he came to her with his needs or questions and he frowned and padded off quietly. He received a measly portion of affirmation from grandparents, elderly neighbors, and wizened aunts who never married, folks who were practically in the affirmation-of-children business. In kindergarten, he was downright appalled to find the bullies stingy with noogies and degrading nicknames. The comedian believed that he was unseen, overlooked, and not-perceived to a greater extent than other people were unseen, overlooked, and not-perceived, when in actuality he was overlooked as much as everyone else, he just felt it more keenly. The talk show host asked him what his first joke was. He said he didn’t remember, but he must have liked what happened because he did it again."
PUBLISHED: Feb. 19, 2013
LENGTH: 11 minutes (2948 words)

Occasional Dispatches from the Republic of Anhedonia: Part Two

I threw myself into my training. It was nice to have a diversion from how I usually spent my days, which was basically me attempting to quantify, to the highest degree of accuracy, the true magnitude of my failures — their mass, volume, and specific gravity. It passed the time in the absence of hobbies. Sure, I worked on my nagging sense of incompleteness a lot, when I had a spare moment, but that was more of a calling than a hobby. The World Series of Poker was my intro to the world of mano-a-mano competition. I'd never been much of an athlete. Perhaps if there had been a sport centered around lying on your couch in a neurotic stupor all day, I'd have taken an interest. I attacked my training on three fronts:
PUBLISHED: July 21, 2011
LENGTH: 13 minutes (3444 words)

Almost Amis

And so Martin Amis and his wife, the author Isabel Fonseca, are coming to Cobble Hill. And what's it like being a writer in Brooklyn? "I expect it's like writing in Manhattan," Colson Whitehead once wrote in The New York Times, "but there aren't as many tourists walking very slowly in front of you when you step out for coffee." More likely, there are other writers walking in front of you. It's a zone of infestation. Not only of novelists but reporters, pundits, poets and those often closeted scribblers who call themselves editors and agents. Not to mention bloggers, or whatever counts for being an online writer these days.
PUBLISHED: April 26, 2011
LENGTH: 12 minutes (3132 words)

Lost and Found

I never got a chance to say goodbye to the twin towers. And they never got a chance to say goodbye to me. I think they would have liked to; I refuse to believe in their indifference. You say you know these streets pretty well? The city knows you better than any living person because it has seen you when you are alone. It saw you steeling yourself for the job interview, slowly walking home after the late date, tripping over nonexistent impediments on the sidewalk. It saw you wince when the single frigid drop fell from the air-conditioner 12 stories up and zapped you. It saw the bewilderment on your face as you stepped out of the stolen matinee, incredulous that there was still daylight after such a long movie. It saw you half-running up the street after you got the keys to your first apartment. It saw all that. Remembers too. #Sept11
PUBLISHED: Nov. 11, 2001
LENGTH: 7 minutes (1884 words)