I've been doing L.A. Noir for over four years now. It will be five in November. I've been going over some of my old blog entries, lately, mostly because I still get comments on posts from years back.
Fun stuff. New comments on old posts mostly fall into three broad categories: Someone hates the subject (Like the Israeli hatchet man dying of stomach cancer right now - Hoo boy, do people want to see him dead), someone hates the previous commenter (Assorted baby mommas of guys doing three to five for assault - Like watching a cage match between rabid wolverines), someone hates me (An unsurprisingly long list - one guy even put up a website specifically to enumerate the ways in which I am an idiot. Apparently, I have arrived. I'd feel better if he'd had more than the one entry, though. I think he lost count)
Reading these has gotten me thinking about a couple of things. One, do I want to do anything different around here and two, what has this taught me?
The second one's easier, so I'll start with that.
People Are Assholes
The more I've done this blog the more I've come to realize that the biggest problems people face are other people. Yes, I already knew this, but trawling through the wasteland of human misery that is the evening news has just hammered that point home.
Seriously, human beings are fucking animals. Child torture, forced prostitution, domestic violence, murder, rape, assault, extortion, fraud, identity theft, carjacking, cannibalism, dismemberment, drive-bys, people set on fire, kids caught in crossfires, dogfighting, cockfighting, bumfighting, drug dealing, murder-suicides, drunken rampages, corpses dragged through the streets, nursing students stuffed in trashcans, men with shotguns, women with kitchen knives, children with pistols, rabid dogs, pissed off monkeys, political corruption, police corruption, judicial corruption, health fraud, bank fraud, bank robbery, and the ever popular shooting of a random stranger after uttering the phrase, "Where you from?"
And the reasons. Jesus. Except for the psychotic breaks and sociopaths (and there might be an argument for those, too) I think most of them boil down to fear. Something gets labeled a threat and people go apeshit. Threat to authority, threat to confidence, threat to livelihood, threat to identity, threat to manhood. Looked at that way it all becomes rather banal.
I don't think you can discount the cultural aspect, either. We have a culture that not only says it's okay for men to be violent, but that violence is a currency in its own right. It's how we settle disputes, right wrongs, maintain balance.
And when you mix up different nationalities that all have their own particular cultural boundaries, well, shit's bound to happen. One of the strengths of L.A., it's ethnic and national diversity, can also be its weakness. But that's for another post entirely.
So Am I
I have never pissed off more people, from more walks of life than during my time writing L.A. Noir.
I am well acquainted with the inappropriate comment. It really is kind of surprising I haven't gotten into more fist fights. It's a defense mechanism. Shit happens and I can't not joke about it. I'm a riot in the emergency room. Not so much at a funeral. Important note: DO NOT HAVE ME GIVE A EULOGY. Just sayin'.
Many of my posts haven't exactly been sensitive to the victims of the crimes I'm writing about. And people have pointed this out to me. Many times. Sometimes eloquently, sometimes in apoplectic rage, sometimes with the grammar skills of a three-year-old. Some threats, a few rants, more than a couple screaming rages.
To my mind it's really a matter of perspective. These are usually from people who are in the middle of it. Someone demanding sensitivity, someone wanting to set the record straight. More often than not that second gets contradicted by someone else who also knows the situation.
Guy I know put it this way. When it happens to someone else, it's pathos. When it happens to you it just sucks. Word.
I've tried to keep the asshole quotient down to a dull roar, but I don't think I'm very good at it. It's like smoking. There is no quitting, just longer peiods of abstinence.
Except When I'm Not
I am nothing more than an asshat with a bullhorn. Occasionally, though, I've been mistaken for something else. Two things, actually: a journalist or a private investigator.
And though I think both of those occupations are pretty goddamn cool, I'm neither. Journalist? Please. I don't write news. I make snarky comments on it. Journalists are out there digging this shit up. At best I'm riding on their coattails.
A PI? Besides serving court papers on an ex-girlfriend so her current boyfriend could get partial custody of their kid (loooong story), I've never done a single PI-like thing in my life. I mean, besides getting beat up.
And no, stalking doesn't count.
But I've gotten emails a few times from strangers looking for help. I'm the only guy they can find who has even mentioned something that's happened to a relative, an ex-husband, a friend. One woman couldn't comprehend how her ex could have been attacked and killed by one guy. Until I dug into it a little and found out that the attacker outweighed him by a hundred and fifty pounds.
Don't know why but that seemed to help her. And that made me feel pretty good about what I've done here.
There are other things, but these are the ones that have been forefront in my mind, lately.
I've been wondering if maybe it's time to make some changes around here. To what I don't know.
The crime stuff I write about is staying. No question about that. That was the whole point of this site in the first place. Well, actually, the point was to stroke my own ego and see how many page hits I can get. That defines one's existence these days, after all.
But what else? I've also been using this as a marketing tool from time to time. Talk about my other writing.
Should I do more of that? Less?
What about rants? Stuff that isn't about a crime or a news story, just me rambling on? You know, like what you're reading now?
More stuff on other writers? More on book signings? Writing about writing? Not that I really know anything about that.
Thoughts, comments? I'll assume that silence means no one really gives a damn and I'll just put up pictures of clowns fucking circus bears or something.
Or the other way around. I mean, whatever floats your boat.