Saturday, December 27, 2014


Self inflicted hiatus, learning, synthesizing, uncovering ways to describe that which was previously unexpressed––gaining fluency in forms that previously eluded, as words tumble in streams of newly mapped mind matter.

Morning or night, continue on this path, do not disappoint––yourself. Do not leave the path until you have reached some kind of ledge on the sheer mountain face. Then feel the calloused skin against rough veins, and map the contour, plan the next vertical.

Found a rock ledge, thanks to Josephine Gist and Kimberley Cameron. Now, next vertical.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


Thursday March 27
Azabu 8:14 am

Pulling the straight razor across his cheek, Hayao thought back to his time with Kazuhiro, when they were both in training, sharing a dorm room together. Their personalities had been polar opposites––Hayao rash and impulsive, Kazuhiro quiet and methodical, and they had butted heads frequently those first few days. Yet over the weeks a deep-seated friendship had emerged. Kazuhiro had imparted some of his careful, reflective qualities on Hayao––lessons from which he still drew sustenance. When Hayao had wound up working in Tokyo and Kazuhiro in suburban Chiba, they had continued to collaborate on cases in which criminal activities overlapped. This occurred fairly frequently, as the distinction between Tokyo and its suburbs meant far less to criminals than to the officials who held competing jurisdictions. To his profound regret, Hayao had not been afforded a window into the case that had taken his friend’s life. The stakes had been high and Kazuhiro had apparently wanted to keep everything to himself until he was sure he had the evidence nailed down. 

It was understandable––there was something inherently slippery in the Japanese system, particularly when any combination of politicians, yakuza, or business leaders stood in the crosshairs. Tentacles of corruption easily pried lose all but the most carefully constructed cases long before they reached the prosecution stage. This had been one of those cases, Hayao found out too late, and all tangible evidence had disappeared by the time Kazuhiro’s body was discovered in the Tokyo Bay. Beyond the pain, Hayao remembered a strange sense of inevitability at the news of his friend’s death. He had noticed in Kazuhiro’s infrequent phone conversations those last few weeks a crackling, nervous energy, at odds with his usual cool self-possession. It was as if he knew he had stumbled onto something far more immense than imagined, was engaged in a high wire act requiring the greatest precision. Or maybe that was just how it played out in Hayao’s head after the fact, trying to puzzle out the significance of their last, truncated conversations.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Twin Dragons: Arisugawa Park + A Very Dark Game

Arisugawa Park, A Very Dark Game - the writer develops multiple personalities cycling between the two. Sits at a table at Starbucks, eavesdropping in on a woman who learned as a young girl that she could see auras. Listens to Sonny Rollins, Don Cherry live... drinks lukewarm coffee. Ponders wormholes. Can writing slow time and even make it seem to move backwards? Seems to be doing the trick. 

Receives a picture from Victoria Kabluyen, the beginning stages of a new card depicting the Macao high rollers' Brian Rast and "Hong Kong" Tom Hall. Sinister, dragons circling. Refined danger. Method, method. Madness. Work, make these projects come together, coalesce... twin dragons, the piercing power of the word. Colman and Busquet, taming the darkness of poker through method. Losing $100,000 in a single click. Madness. A Very Dark Game. See this through, endure. Think Ironman, 49 hours straight... what is this in comparison? Lightheaded, stay with it. Ride the dragon, bend time and tame it. Find the space to do this right. ‪#‎endurancewriter‬‪#‎averydarkgame‬

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

NY Times Article On "The Art of Not Trying" Spurs Thought Growth

I've been thinking about the concepts in the NY Times article A Meditation on the Art of Not Trying as a writer, particularly the sense that in crafting something as mind-boggling complex as a 400 page thriller with multiple perspectives, set convincingly in foreign locales, with correct stylistic/grammatical choices, and innovative plot--the best way to do this seems to be to free my mind, immerse myself in the moment and forget that I am doing "work" that took a lifetime of training to achieve. (Even during the revision stages, I wipe my mind clean a thousand times and look at the pages anew, with the eyes of the first-time reader)

"The advice is as maddening as it is inescapable. It’s the default prescription for any tense situation: a blind date, a speech, a job interview, the first dinner with the potential in-laws. Relax. Act natural. Just be yourself.

But when you’re nervous, how can you be yourself? How you can force yourself to relax? How can you try not to try?"

Interestingly, "wu wei" is a quality that some of the top live poker players that I have observed seem to have. Ivey, Danzer, Haxton , Jacobson. (Others like Smith, Kitai, Esfandiari, and Selbst seem to have a neurotic, compulsive strategy going, I'll have to think about this more). Negreanu is fairly unique, not sure how to characterize his style--annoy your opponent into revealing stuff?

I do know that in the 49 hour-continuous Ironman I was so tired I somehow "transcended" the tournament, started seeing things as they really were at the table, free of fear or self-consciousness. This was a particularly effective strategy in that particular tournament because it was so deep structured, the blinds never really came into play. In 99 percent of normal tournaments there is way more variance related to increasing blind levels, and one's mental strategy plays a correspondingly smaller role.

“Our culture is very good at pushing people to work hard or acquire particular technical skills,” Dr. Slingerland says. “But in many domains actual success requires the ability to transcend our training and relax completely into what we are doing, or simply forget ourselves as agents.”

Another aspect of this article that interests me is the part about wining and dining--that is of getting someone drunk, as an essential part of any business decision. This is super prevalent in Japan, where I taught English for five years, and very few major decisions are made without a long night at the izakaya. Corporate meetings can often be described as mere formality, or an in-depth sounding out (like the beginning stages of a deep stacked tournament) rather than as the venue for decisions to be finalized.

"Before signing a big deal, businesspeople often insist on getting to know potential partners at a boozy meal because alcohol makes it difficult to fake feelings. Neuroscientists have achieved the same effect in brain scanners by applying magnetic fields that suppress cognitive-control ability and in this way make it harder for people to tell convincing lies.

“Getting drunk is essentially an act of mental disarmament,” Dr. Slingerland writes. “In the same way that shaking right hands with someone assures them that you’re not holding a weapon, downing a few tequila shots is like checking your prefrontal cortex at the door. ‘See? No cognitive control. You can trust me.’ ”

This is also relates to something recently observed. A full month before I signed with my literary agent, I met with her (and an intern) for lunch and we polished off a bottle of wine and went through edits on the entire manuscript over four hours-- incidentally sounding each other out. I realize now that there is a definite method to this seeming madness. Although no money is exchanged until the agent sells the manuscript, the decision to take on a new client is not taken lightly. If something emerges in the preliminary interactions that indicates a poor fit, the offer will simply not be made and the contract never offered. You can argue that it should be the actual words on the page that sell themselves, but in today's personality driven age this is no longer the case.

So the conundrum comes down to the idea that success at the highest levels often involves forgetting your training, losing fear, immersing yourself in the totality of what is going on rather than preconceptions. Interviewing Brian Rast last month I asked him how he could steel his nerves in Big Game situations, with hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line and his reply was something surprisingly similar. Reminds me, I'll have to go back and make a podcast of that.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Progress Report

As a writer, the progress is in your head. Nothing is bought until everything is complete. No money is exchanged and thus there is no risk of losing integrity. Accomplish work as stunning in its technical breadth as setting up a completely new infrastructure, with stylistic flair and imagination, and get paid in––what? Promises, whisps of encouragement. 

And yet you are the author, no one else. And somehow that is enough, fair payment for daring to question Bob Dylan's adage "you've gotta serve somebody." Serve somebody? Nah. Serve a dream, an ideal. A pathway that only you can take but which can, with luck, bring everyone one step closer home.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Life Becomes Conveyance

No time for life, the waking hours
populated by frames, skeletons of sketches,
dreams, ideas, revisited memories

No time for life on this killing floor
of artistic creation––a job and hence
lifeless, talent unwound and tied to commerce

Escape to the ideal planet where
thoughts, dreams astound
where reality mirrors vision vexed

not constricted, no chains of status, belonging––
commerce, pride, cages and cages
we make for ourselves to hoard trinkets.

Friday, December 12, 2014

A 1963 "Miles Davis Sextet - John Coltrane Quartet" Poster Glimpsed

A Love Supreme. (40th anniversary). Davis, Rivers/Coleman, Hancock, Carter, Williams units. (also Supreme).

I wonder if anyone knows, who would have been the personnel in this early '63 Miles Davis sextet? Seems to me that it would have been George Coleman, Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, and Tony Williams. An amazing and under appreciated unit that would come out with one of the most tremendous performances ever in early 1964 (Philharmonic Hall, New York, February 12th). Unless Davis had a guest alto saxophone player. Or maybe this was right before he settled on Williams and Carter, was still trying players out.

Wonder which show I would have liked to have seen most.. both musicians were pretty exploratory around this time. Coltrane was discovering multi-octave freedom, fast. Davis was fine-tuning the backbone of his second great quartet, arguably one of the most innovative in jazz history.

Would have been nice to have seen Coltrane team up with Davis for a couple reunion gigs. The closest we have to that vibe is the Davis' '64 shows in Tokyo, with fellow musical explorer Sam Rivers. (That is really enough––I enjoy Rivers' improv as much as Coltrane's). What emerged with Shorter in two short years would be yet another tremendous departure, which I am still exploring as a listener.

I wonder (regarding a Davis Coltrane reunion) were there factions of jazz by this time (63-64) that prevented free interflow of musicians? Was it pure economics––two supreme jazz musicians could not inhabit the same city or club at a time. Can you imagine them mixing it up? Hancock with Coltrane, Tyner with Davis. Eleven Jones and Tony Williams double uniting it on the skins. I think a large part of it was that Davis was still in an outwardly trad musical space, as compared with the free flowing Coltrane. Not in terms of musicianship or fluidity, but in that he had not bought into the Dolphy/Ornette abstractions that were starting to ascend. Even Rivers, who was brought in at fellow-Bostonian Williams' suggestion was a little too far out for him, although the contrast works in the Tokyo concert, and is enlightening.

In any case, this kind of existential cross-pollination of jammers did not really occur until the late 1960s, with Hendrix, Miles, Traffic, McLaughlin et al. All I know is that, with musicians like Davis, Coltrane, and Ornette Colman in the mix, jazz had already reached the center.


A little further Facebook exchange on the topic, with my cousin Paul Rogers, a noted Raleigh-by-way-of-Philly trumpeter. 

Me: I wonder if anyone knows, who would have been the personnel in this early '63 Miles Davis sextet? 

Paul: it would have been Herbie, Tony, Rob, and likely Coleman. I'm not sure who the sixth man would've been, though.

Me:  yeah, its so odd because I simply don't see a MD sextet since late 1950s. Could have been that exact transition moment when there was a fluid number of band members. Cause I think he brought in Williams and Hancock in April. Coleman was constant, having replaced Mobley in 1962. As was Carter. Quite possibly, they prepared the poster a couple weeks in advance, when there was talk of a sextet that never materialized. Cause they were recording the second session for Seven Steps To Heaven in Los Angeles around that time.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Nested Combustion

Eyes the color of beer, mind brimming with straightforward enigmas
as he autotunes instinct to all that is required in today's
sleek, undecided stratosphere––

Half afraid to walk off the deep end
and half intrigued by the sheer force of boredom
and wish to leave the machines behind
Nested in the cocoon of combustion, to fly.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

One with the dusty world

I wonder sometimes, was everything meant to be? ... I mean living, really living. Was it because the earth was moving toward something almost taoist in circumference?

Walk the desert, without a net. Cast aside doubts and aim for the horizon, where the thicket lays so shallow on the coast and the smoke streams up in trickles.

Days are empty
bottomless, the origin of all things;

They blunt my path, become One with the dusty world.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Time For Another

Las Vegas do or die
I am bust, beat out,
carpentered, made up of brittle holes
and still I wobble