Monday, January 14, 2013

barn-based solutions (act 2)

[barn-based solutions  (Act 2)]

GLENN<<< Ok, we're back!  I’m sitting here with Karl and Marty.  Karl is some kind of author and Marty is some kind of journalist and we’re trying to get a feel for their respective professional practices.  That they are distinct but also very much linked up in some way is part of the reason that we have them both here this evening.  After a slow start in the eighties and nineties things began to pick up for both of them, and the old barn where Marty stores his journals is finally coming into its own.  It is precisely here where I would like to resume my prior line or style of questioning- an old question, a tired question, a perhaps completely superfluous question, yet a nagging question all the same- a question which, I feel, cuts to the absolute essence of why we are all here this evening-  I talked to several people during the break who feel exactly as I do in regards to this point.  (to audience)  Thank you, by the way, whoever you were.  So- given that your career as an author holds a relative interest for only a tiny cross-section of the so-called reading public- and given that the private journalism that has been devoted to that career perhaps interests you- I have to ask you again-  and I’m not gonna let you off so easy this time- aren’t you the slightest bit worried about the building still not being equipped with a lock?
K<<< (pause) to be completely honest, yes, I am.  (pause) I am indeed the slightest bit worried.  but we have put certain measures in place over the years that have helped mitigate this worry somewhat…it’s still a fairly sensitive issue…there continues to be a certain amount of trial and error.  
G<<< Would you care to elaborate?  (pause) You almost make it sound like you have come up with a provisional solution of sorts.  
K<<< Well, we have.
G<<< And is it working?
K<<< Yes, 100%, insofar as the journals have never been tampered with.
G<<< But the peace of mind- that’s also important.  How worried are you about their safety on a day to day basis?  And another thing that’s occurred to me, as I’m sure it has you- what about the implications of coming onto a program like this one and stating openly that the meticulous documentation of your life is stored away in a rickety, old, unlocked barn?  An anonymous barn, to be sure, perhaps almost indistinguishable from hundreds of others- but it’s that word “almost” that worries me.  Yes indeed.  That word “almost” speaks volumes.  I don’t know exactly how visible you and Marty are within the community.  I wish I did, but I don’t.  Another one of life’s countless yet essentially inconsequential disappointments.  I have no idea when or why or how often you have reason to visit this barn.  Something tells me that it only happens under the cover of night.  Yes, some vague intuition tells me that it only happens under cover of night.  The deepest, the darkest, the deadest, the quietest.  But again, a small part of the population remains not only on the alert but very much out and about late at night.  For all I know, these might be precisely the people who would take the most interest.  I don’t know who your intended audience is and, frankly, Karl and Marty, I’m not sure you do either.  I’ll give you a chance to comment on this but first let me rephrase the question:  how worried are you about this security issue?  what precautions have you taken so that information which is elicited on programs such as this is not used against you by malefactors- unauthorized people who, for whatever reasons, might want to get their hands on these notebooks?     
K<<< Well, Hedge Apple, let me say right off the bat that I appreciate your concern.  I know you’re just feigning this sentiment so as to come off as compassionate and warm to your viewers, [Glenn, in background: “not fair, not fair…somewhat true but not fair”] but for the purposes of this conversation I’ll just go ahead and take your words at face value.  First of all, and I think I’ve alluded to this matter before- this is not the first interview we have done in which the subject of the barn has been broached.  Old, anonymous, dilapidated, unlocked, non-descript-  all of this is common knowledge.  It is already out in the public domain.  Certain websites even provide information and maps regarding its alleged or rumored location, and sometimes this information is well within the proverbial ballpark.  So I guess what I am saying is,  in regards to the barn, there are very few actual secrets.  Most of the key ingredients are already out there on the internet.  If you had done just a few minutes of research you would know all of this for yourself.  But no big deal.  I don’t mind going over the whole thing again.
G<<< Well, Karl, in my defense, I already did the relevant research but I want to hear it from you.  Why else would we invite someone into the studio?  Have you ever heard of something called “new developments?”  People’s lives are constantly changing!   Why should I believe what some random yahoo decides to disclose on the internet?  Especially when I have you right here, on the premises.  
K<<< The barn is as unlocked and ramshackle as ever but there is, for the time being, 24 hour security provided by a well-qualified guard.  
G<<< A guard as in human being, or guard as in electronic security system?  
K<<< Guard as in human being.  The barn itself has never been equipped with electricity.
G<<< So you employ a full-time guard.
K<<< Yes. At present it seems to be the best solution for everyone.
G<<< And I presume this guard came with extremely high credentials and recommendations?
K<<< No. No official credentials or recommendations at all.  He’s a personal friend of mine.
G<<< All of this is already out in the public domain?
K<<< More or less, insofar as I’ve looked into the matter.
G<<< Well, jeez, Karl, if there was ever a matter you would look into I would think this might be right up there.
K<<< I guess that’s just a difference between us, Sir Hedge Apple.  You purport to be a professional journalist, I purport to be a professional author.  We’ve positioned ourselves slightly differently regarding the possible linguistic registers which may or may not open out onto the monolith of a semi-intertwined financial circuitry.  In other words, I am, in a certain manner of speaking, impoverished, while you, I assume, and again, only in a manner of speaking, are well-off financially as a direct result of your high-profile, no-nonsense journalism.  You provide the kind of service that human beings habitually clamor for.  At this point I’m not prepared to say whether my quote “impoverished” condition is a direct result or reflection of my particular authorship.  It’s true that a significant portion of my so-called net-worth goes directly to matters regarding Marty and his team and the work that they do on my behalf.  The incidental costs of the notebooks, the pens, and the lease of the barn are all underwritten by me.    
G<<< I suppose there’s also the salary of the guard to consider.
K<<< Hm- funny you mention that.  We actually have what is oftentimes referred to as a work-trade agreement.
G<<< Ah, yes, I’ve heard about these agreements.  Kind of in the same category as good, old-fashioned barter.  Parties provide each other goods and services without any money changing hands.  
K<<< Yes.  It’s that way with us.
G<<< Would it be ok to inquire into this guard’s basic identity?
K<<< To a certain extent.
G<<< I mean, if he was just some random guard hired by a random security service, coming and going, being replaced, being outsourced, wearing a uniform and perhaps even a firearm- well, I probably wouldn’t inquire, and not because I think security guards are uninteresting, but because I would just assume that you had no inside information.  But when you mention “personal friend” in this context obviously my ears immediately prick, as I intuit that there is a possible angle of interest involved here.
K<<< Well, he is an interesting guy.  I concede that.
G<<< Do you think you could be bit more specific?  I find that the word “interesting,” which I realize I have used myself several times in this interview, is no longer itself actually interesting or even the slightest bit meaningful.   The word has simply collapsed in on itself, I’m afraid.  When people describe something as interesting I begin to glaze over.
K<<< Look, I agree with you.  I think it’s a pretty useless word also.  So I’ll elaborate.  The gaurd is in fact an absolute recluse.
G<<< Wow.  I like it.  I like it immediately.  but you’re gonna have to be more specific.
K<<< Ok.  He has never once left the barn.  In the 9 or 10 months since we’ve had this arrangement, he hasn’t left the barn even once.  
G<<< So let me get this straight- you’re saying that he lives in the barn.
K<<< Lives there, yes, and never leaves there.  
G<<< So as to never leave the journals unprotected?  This reclusion is all carried out in the name of the journals?
K<<< You’re not the first person to ask me this but the astonishment never decreases.  The answer is no, Glenn-  of course not.  His reclusion has nothing at all to do with my journals.  It’s a lifestyle he’s been cultivating for a number of years.  For most of his adult life in fact.  When we met, maybe 5 years ago, he was already extremely private and solitary.  In fact, it was the merest fluke that we met at all.  Normally I would have never come into contact with him.
G<<< But maybe this gig with the journals has allowed him to finally reach his potential.  [Karl groans]  Wait- wait- just go with me on this for a second- maybe all of these years he’s been secretly yearning for some kind of tangible purpose, and when your offer came to guard the journals, it was like a match made in heaven.  Not only does he get to stay hidden away 24/7, but it’s actually serving a very specific and honorable purpose.  How many recluses do you know who are actually guarding something of value?  None, I bet is the answer.  Their reclusion is undertaken for nothing more than its own inherent value- which I for one have sometimes struggled to understand or respect.  But look- that’s another story entirely- and it doesn’t apply to your friend.  You have a solid work-trade agreement by which each of you is contributing something of value.  Of course, I can’t personally vouch for the quote “value of the notebooks themselves,” but again, that’s irrelevant- they have value to you, and maybe, to a certain extent, your quiet friend Marty here.  by this time I would imagine that some of them might have started decomposing somewhat, considering how long they have been there, the dilapidated conditions, etc.  But again, if for whatever reason you feel that they need to be guarded, and if for whatever reason this person never wants to step foot out of the barn- well, who could criticize that arrangement?  
K<<< So far, no one has criticized it.
G<<< Any chance you could tell us a little bit more about what makes this peculiar guard friend of yours tick?
K<<< I’d prefer not to.  If and when he wants to publicly disclose personal information he can do or oversee that for himself.
G<<< Are you saying that he has expressly forbidden you to talk about him in public?
K<<< No, not expressly.
G<<< But vaguely.
K<<< No, not even that really. I think I’ve given you a sufficient orientation here.
G<<< (amazed, as if to himself) He really never leaves the barn. . . not even to stroll around the yard. . .  not even a wicker armchair outside the door.
K<<< That’s right.  None of those things occur or exist.
G<<< So I suppose that people bring him food and any other neccesities.
K<<< That’s correct.  There are several people he can contact at any time that he wishes.
G<<< There’s a part of me that’s almost having a hard time believing you.
K<<< That’s ok, sir.  I can live with that.
G<<< (pause) (pointing to marty) So he’s just here along for the ride?
K<<< I suppose you could put it that way.
G<<< but Karl- for the love of God! What is he actually doing?  I’ve been around reporters all my life and none of them have ever acted like this!  
K<<< We’ve already been over this.  Let’s try and keep moving forward.
G<<< Oh right, now I remember-  he’s observing and listening.  Sometimes he records on the spot, sometimes after the fact.
K<<< Right.
G<<< And this must be one of those occasions when he’s decided to do so after the fact.
K<<< That’s right.  Probably later tonight when he’s back home in his room.
G<<< You two don’t live together?
K<<< No, not at all- what makes you think that?
G<<< Well, I don’t know…all of this observing, all of these hundreds of notebooks-
K<<< Yeah, well- we each have our own place.  Same neighborhood, really.  Decidedly separate dwellings.   
G<<< And I suppose the next thing you’re going to tell me is that you wouldn’t have it any other way.
K<<< No, I wasn’t thinking of saying that.
G<<< But now that I’ve put the idea into your head?
K<<< Uh..let’s see here…yeah, I think it’s true that we both prefer living alone.
G<<< But certainly not to the same extent as the guard-
K<<< Yeah- that’s true.  By the way, his name is David.  
G<<< Does he carry a firearm?
K<<< No.  
G<<< And yet he is considered a guard.
K<<< Maybe “caretaker” is a more accurate term.
G<<< In the sense that he “takes care” of the journals.
K<<< You know what, let’s scratch that word also.  He just lives there.  It has almost nothing to do with the journals.   
G<<< And yet, as you yourself just admitted, his being there relieves you somehow, knowing that the journals are not entirely without defense.
K<<< [getting visibly anxious] Right, right, maybe I said that.
G<<< Look, sir, it’s not that expensive to get a lock put into a door.
K<<< We’ve already been over this.
G<<< Maybe there’s nothing left to say on the matter?
K<<< Yeah.  I think we’ve exhausted this matter.
G<<< Shall we move onto another?
K<<< Let’s get Amanda in here.
G<<< Amanda?
K<<< Yeah- why don’t you call out for Amanda?
G<<< What purpose would she serve at this particular juncture?
K<<< I don’t know.  Maybe we could look some words up in the dictionary.
G<<< I don’t know, Karl. That led to a little bit of trouble before.
K<<< Yeah, but it was trouble that brought us together.  It led to an increased sense of connection.
G<<< You’re not feeling connected right now?
K<<< No.  Not particularly.  Please.  Look some words up in the dictionary.
G<<< Which ones?
K<<< Turn to the entry for random and read the first few entries that happen to be on the preceding page.
G<<< Oh, I’ve heard about exercises like this-  “chance operations,” they’re called?
K<<< That is the term, I believe.  And that is how I would like for us to proceed.
G<<< Interesting how I’ve sort of ceded control over to you.
K<<< I thought you didn’t like the word interesting.
G<<< Well, it’s a difficult habit to break.
K<<< Let’s please commence with the chance operation.
G<<< Ok- here goes nothing!  [turns to that page and reads a few definitions]
[Glenn carries out the chance operation for 2 or 3 minutes, until the following interruption.  A woman, Heather, presumably Glenn’s wife or girlfriend, storms in and starts assaulting and berating Glenn for some kind of infidelity- whether personal or professional is not entirely clear.  Phrases such as “how could you?”,  “you bastard”,  “you dickweed”, and “how could you think I wouldn’t discover this” are flying pell-mell out of her mouth.  The actor can improvise here.  She’s not so much concerned with conveying a verbal message as she is hitting and hurting Glenn physically.  About 15 seconds into the tirade, Karl calls for Amanda and himself gets up to try quelling the conflict.  Heather is not easily dissuaded.  Amanda emerges and the two of them continue trying to quell the conflict (Marty is, as usual, completely quiet and motionless, not even looking over at the conflict) when Melissa, Bryan Silson’s agent, and her own assistant Richard burst onto the scene]


[everyone seems to understand that this woman wields considerable power, and they quickly submit to her suggestion.  Richard has a student quality spiral bound paper notebook in hand and is very ostentatiously observing and recording the situation- both the physical environment and everything that the group is doing and saying.  one gets the sense he is alternating very rapidly between sketches, transcription, and analysis, barely pausing for a breath.]

MELISSA<<< You know, Glenn, I’m surprised by you.  I am really and truly surprised by you-
HEATHER<<< (shouting) That makes two of us, asshole!!!  (recommences her attack, but is quickly stopped by Amanda and Karl)
MELISSA<<< You really don’t understand what it means to stop when you’re ahead, do you?
GLENN<<< does it look to you like I’m ahead?
MELISSA<<< well, at this moment, not really-  a couple hours ago?  maybe.  This morning?  most definantly.
G<<< why most definantly this morning?
M<<< because you still had a interview series to conduct in Brian’s absence.
G<<< Melissa- you can’t just barge in here in the middle of taping!
M<<< I have Brian here on my cell phone- he was wondering if he could have a few quick words with you?
G<<< right now?
M<<< right now.
G<<< (pause)  Know what?  Tell him that I need to finish up this interview first-  I’ll call him as soon as we’re finished.
M<<< I’m telling you right now, at Brian’s request, that you are already finished.
G<<< (petulantly) Well, guess what, Melissa- Brian’s not calling the shots here- I’m under contract to conduct this interview series precisely as I see fit until his return- let him collect his///(interuppted) little relics and fossil un
M<<< he’s in his office dwon the hallway.
G<<< (in disbelief) What?
M<<< he’s back.  he’s calling from his office down the hallway-
G<<< well then, why doesn’t he come in here himself if he wants to talk to me so badly?
[Karl leans over and whispers something into Marty’s ear.  After 5 or 6 seconds Marty slowly turns around and locates Richard, who is still frantically trying to record absolutely every detail of the situation as well as making notes about it in the margin.  After watching Richard closely for about a minute, he quickly but discreetly gets up from his chair and sidles over to Richard, and leaning in or over his shoulder, commences reading his notes as he takes them.  The two do not acknowledge each other in any other way]
M<<< he said that he’s not ready to take in that type and amount of visual information right now-
G<<< oh for God’s sake!  isn’t that perfect!  isn’t that just classic Brian?
M<<< yeah- pretty much classic Brian-  nonetheless- you guys are finished- tonight’s performers are here and they’re already late starting their soundcheck- (calling off to the wings)  Come on in, people- (a mix-gendered bluegrass band or string quartet or some combination thereof immediately come onto the stage with instruments, mid-conversation, discussing technical elements of the piece they are going to be playing- within about a minute and a half, they have commenced a full blown rehersal, which in essence signals the end of the play, since the voices of the actors are pretty much drowned out completely-  whether they linger on stage and keep talking or dissappear gradually is up to the director, and the director’s sense of a) how long does he or she want to drag this thing out and/or b) does the audience need a clear signal that the play is essentially over.)  (last few lines of dialogue while the musicians are setting up)
M<<< I have to say though, and I think Bryan agrees with me- the dictionary was an interesting touch- I wasn’t sure at first, but eventually the hidden meaning started to sort of seep through-
G<<< well, you can give Amanda credit for that-  I was a little skeptical myself at first, but she convinced us that Karl was really into this particular word, and that is was almost sure to come up in discussion, which it did, at his instigation, and that it would really throw him and the audience for a loop to have the raw facts thrown in their face like that-
K<<< I wasn’t thrown for a loop-
G<<< what about your little buddy?
K<<< I don’t think he was the slightest bit fazed by it.
G<<< it looks like he’s made a new friend-
K<<< oh no- he and Richard go way back-
G<<< you’re probably going to tell me that they went to journalism school together-
K<<< no- not quite- they did work on a community newsletter together for several years back in the nineties-
M<<< you’re referring to the Sea Floor Stability Project?
K<<< exactly.
A<<< whoa- that’s the Marty we’re talking about here?  I loved that guy!
K<<< yeah, alot of people loved that guy.
A<<< and what’s he doing now, exactly?
K<<< presently he’s working for me-
A<<< and your project is. . . what, exactly?
K<<< well, I recently published a psuedo-memoir with photographs- but presently I’m doing research to maybe go live in a cave in Kentucky for a year-
A<<< alone?
K<<< still trying to decide about that.
A<<< and what exactly is Marty doing?
K<<< (pause) (here begins dialogue adapted from earlier on in the script)  He’s my own private reporter.  He records what happens to and around me.  He records my words and my actions.  He records what occurs.  He records the environment.  He’s a highly trained, highly sensitive,  and highly experienced journalist.  He does what all journalists do.  He observes what happens, very carefully, and then records or documents those observations in some form or fashion, equally carefully- usually written, but he also sometimes employs simple pen-and-ink sketches.  The question of journalistic bias I’d prefer to leave to aside for the moment.  Depending on how the Q and A goes we might get back to it later.   
A<<< Glenn mentioned earlier that some people consider him a political cartoonist of srts.
K<<< I wouldn’t disagree with that characterization.  He does indeed keep a pretty close eye on the polis.  “Cartographer” is another term that has come up several times.
A<<< Ok then-  moving on- these recordings- these writings, sketches, etc-  what my audience really wants to know, I think, and what I would like to know also- we want to know the same things, for the most part- we have the same concerns, for the most part- what eventually happens to these writings and sketchings?  In all senses of the term, or in as many as you care to enumerate- what, in point of fact, happens to all of these writings and sketches?  Where do they go or end up?  Lead us thru the typical life cycle of these writings and sketches.
K<<< Well, no big mystery there, Amanda.  He stores them out in the barn.
A<<< What barn?
K<<< An old wooden barn that we rent out from a neighbor.
A<<< They all end up in a barn?
K<<< Sure.  Seems as good a solution as any.  Physical documents require a physical shelter.
A<<< But what possible good are they doing stashed away in a barn?
K<<< By the time they’ve reached the barn they have usually done all the good they are capable of.
A<<< Well then why keep them at all?
K<<< Sentimental reasons, perhaps.  Laziness.  Sluggishness.  Vanity.
A<<< You openly admit to those qualities?
K<<< It’s difficult to say with precision.  Sometimes I like to get another perspective.  I keep a record for myself, as I mentioned, and then I compare mine with Marty’s.  It helps me understand some of my errors and helps prevent further missed opportunities.  It’s a really sweet arrangement for anyone who can scrape together the resources.  Assuming, of course, that one prefers to avoid missing key opportunities.
A<<<  Ok, wait- let me just get this straight- he tags along with you, like this evening, observes unobtrusively, and then proceeds to records those observations- does he record as he’s observing or does he do so after the fact?
K<<< It depends on the situation.
A<<< It probably depends partially on the need for discretion.
K<<< Oh, of course.  There’s always that.  It basically usually comes down, in the end, to gut feeling.
A<<< And by that I assume you mean…
K<<< Whatever human response might be stirred up in the heat of the moment- the convulsive nature of events- the chewing up and spitting out- raw transgression, really, if you don’t mind me putting it bluntly-
A<<< No, no, I don’t mind it at all- believe it or not, I have a bit of intuition myself…so what you’re saying is that sometimes he waits until he’s back in his room, and at other times he is recording events right there on the spot, pecking away at some sort of electronic device-
K<<< No, he never made the transition to electronic devices.
A<<< None at all?
K<<< (pause) Ok, let’s assume for the sake of argument that there were two distinct eras. . .which there weren’t, of course. . .massive over-simplifications are my stock-in-trade, so to speak. . .and a rickety rope bridge conjoining them, spanning an extremely treacherous gulf or abyss.  Now imagine a band of wandering gypsies, or homeless people, or wildcrafting mendicant types-  seriously, hedgehog, close your eyes for a moment and try to conjure up a small band of anonymous and wandering humans.  I’m serious, close your eyes- (Glenn complies)  Most of the time Marty studies this scene from afar but at other times he decides it would be better to do so up close, and of course sometimes this decision is made for him by circumstances beyond his control.  Whichever the case happens to be, and whatever level of risk it entails,  he studies and records without the aid of electronic devices.  
A<<< In his journalism, you mean.
K<<< In every part of his life.
A<<< Including journalism.
K<<< Yes.  The last time I checked, journalism was included in the category: every part of his life.
A<<< Wow.  Can I open my eyes now?
K<<< Sure.
A<<< Wow- a real throw-back!  That’s amazing!  I hear about these people sometimes.  Are you implying that Marty still carries around an old-fashioned journalist’s notepad?
K<<< No, nothing old-fashioned particularly.  Just a common, student-quality spiral bound paper notebook, usually one hundred pages or so.  The kind you can ususally find in any gas station or Walgreens.
A<<< A simple spiral bound notebook.
K<<< Yes, a simple spiral-bound notebook.
A<<< This is where he records his observations.
K<<< That’s right, Amanda.  I think you’re finally coming into the clear.  He fills up one after another.  He’s a vigilant and indefatigable observer of all sorts of phenomena.    
A<<< Does he attempt to read your mind?
K<<< Believe it or not, he not only attempts it-  it has been confirmed over and over that he positively succeeds.
A<<< Wow.  So this is Marty’s journalistic practice.
K<<< Well, it’s one part of his practice.
A<<< What are some of the others?
K<<< (pause) I don’t know that we really have time to start breaking things down so specifically. . .he’s a relatively private person. . .certain things are off-limits…