What a horrible loutish planet this is, the dominant species consists of sadistic morons, faces bearing the hideous lineaments of spiritual famine swollen with stupid hate. hopeless rubbish.
-William S. Burroughs
November is stupid. October starts out like late summer, blossoms with fall foliage, and ends on Halloween. December has Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve and we all have an excuse to act like we’re happy even though we’re all gripping our steering wheels tighter and gritting our teeth harder, while racing along buying a bunch of crap nobody needs. But at least we pretend. November is stupid. It sits in the middle, like the Massachusetts of months.
Thanksgiving is okay, but gratitude is like diet and exercise. Once a year doesn’t really do a whole lot. This crappy month helps you remember which months have 30 days, and beyond that, the weather sucks and we don’t see the sun much.
I haven’t been on my mountain bike much at all. It’s been raining. I’ve been busy. If you can’t tell already, I’m a little grumpy. I need exercise and I need the outdoors to mix the right chemical cocktail in my brain that is required for me to be a decently pleasant human.
A few weeks ago, I started my Trainerroad indoor cycling plan. It takes up time I’d otherwise spend sitting on the couch growing grumpier and instead I gain fitness that I’ll hopefully enjoy some day if Spring ever comes.
In order to cope with the medieval dungeon drudgery that is riding a bike in the basement, I usually self induce a trance by frying out my neuroreceptors watching YouTube or Netflix on my laptop.
Last weekend, instead of watching mountain bike porn on YouTube or Ozark on Netflix, I watched a documentary on Amazon Prime called “Burroughs: A Man Within” about William S. Burroughs. Lot’s of cool people like William Burroughs. He appears on the cover art of the famous Beatles album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band”. He’s credited with coming up with the term “Heavy Metal”, the name Steely Dan comes from his weird AF novel “Naked Lunch”, and he hung out with David Bowie, Kurt Cobain, and Sonic Youth.
The legendary writer from the Beat Generation was the inspiration for the character Old Bull Lee in Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” and he was a friend and contemporary of Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. “On the Road” was written in 1951. When I think of the 50s, I think of the Cleaver family and nice neighborhoods with picket fences and kids playing outside. Apparently that’s not all that was going on.
Burroughs wrote about taking an impressive array of illicit drugs, and colorful acts of multi gender sexual exploits. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Well, drugs are bad, but to each his own otherwise. He accidentally shot his wife in the head in 1951 during a drunken William Tell reenactment in Mexico City. In probably his most famous work, Naked Lunch, he writes surreal scenes and trippy routines including an episode about a man who teaches his anus to talk.
Burroughs was also known for the “Cut Up Method” in which he would take pages of written text, cut them up into pieces with scissors, rearrange the pieces into a different order, and then find phrases from the jumbled words that provided hidden insights that were locked up inside the original author’s manipulation of language. He thought that “language is a virus from outer space”. In his book, The Best Minds of my Generation, Allen Ginsberg reported that Burroughs believed “the purpose of all the hallucinations being laid out was that the planet was being prepared for a takeover by a virus like form which didn’t need people. So the virus entered the human body as language.” Or something like that. This stuff is way over my head, and I’m okay with that.
Thomas Edison said that “Genius is 1 percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration”. I got both perspiration and inspiration from my ride on the trainer watching the Burroughs documentary. I took that inspiration outside this past weekend and grabbed my GoPro Camera as I went for a bike ride in some November slush that was still on the ground from a weird snow storm on Thursday night. I also “cut up” the lyrics from the November appropriate song, “November Rain” by Guns N Roses and using Burroughs’ method, rearranged the cut up pieces in a different order and tried to find new phrases (see above). I guess it’s an art project? Somehow I missed the genius part of Edison’s edict. Maybe more perspiration is required. You can see the results below:
Burroughs was weird. I can kind of get why people think he’s so cool. Though needles and talking rectums aren’t really my thing, he certainly captured my attention and I was distracted from my own self created misery for a while. Watching the documentary, the monotony of riding my trainer passed by a little faster. So thank you, William Burroughs. That being said, November still Sucks.