The Sexiest Building on the Atlanta Skyline
But mostly: one and a half October shows, and three quarters of a poem!
Est. Read Time: 8 minutes. Read Time brought to you once again by the Ashburton Energy + Hair Logistics Group, in association with the Bradley Hills Bureau of Corrections.
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Hello Sternal Journalists
Hellooo, Sternal Journalists!
That’s right. I’m actually starting to book shows again. If you’re in LA, I’ll be hosting Can’t Even Comedy at the Mama Shelter Rooftop on October 14th1, and then I’m actually on the show (same place!) on October 28th.
Look at how impressive my hair is on the flyer:
So come out to either of those! One’s got Greg Fitzsimmons; the other’s got a ventriloquist! It’s gonna be a party, a scene, and a hoot and a half either way.
And now onto the business of the week:
A poem in progress
If you’ve been around the Sternal Journal long enough, you know that, even though being a comedian and comedy-esque writer are my main creative identities, I enjoy dabbling in all dagburn sorts of types of mediums.
Well, I’m here with another poem I’ve been messing around with. This is a real work in progress. I thought it up while walking back from a COVID test2, wrote it down later that day, and didn’t look at it again until earlier today when I decided I wanted to postpone my original idea for today’s Sternal Journal (another essay shouting about things adjacent to Ordinary Joe).
I made some tweaks, but it still feels like it has plenty of room to grow. But if you read it, I’ll leave you with what I love about it and what I hate about it at the end, both of which I think could give you little creative nuggets to gnaw on in your own life.
Or you can just scroll down to the recommendations for the week. Here’s the poem:
Insect Stuff / All Natural
Everyone thinks the world’s gonna end. We think it so much, so badly, that we don’t actually think about what’ll happen if it doesn’t. RIGHT?
What if in a million years, we’re still here? YA KNOW?
Maybe every square inch of the planet
will be built up
with so many
and vertical farms
and augmented, virtual,
or otherwise re-a-li-ties
so much that there are just these dedicated places you can go
in “nice” neighborhoods
of “nice” cities,
where you can look up and there’s the patch of sky.
Not a patch of sky. The patch of sky.
The only Patch O’ Sky in 170 miles.
It’s 10 feet wide by 10 feet,
and if you pay your fifteen smackers,
(benefitting the Sky Perceptibility Conservation Society)
you can take an elevator up,
step out onto a platform,
and see what the weather’s like today.
They call Montana Big Sky Country because
in every direction you can see unbroken horizon.
Well, this is the opposite of that.
I’m saying what if we shrunk the borders of the sky so so much
that it retreats so far into itself that it’s a tourist destination?
‘Twould be a damn shame, right?!
And not natural! Not of nature! Right?!
When a little insect
picks up a twig
and trots down a branch
like an old timey businessman clutching a briefcase—
We don’t think “That’s unnatural.”
We don’t think it’s a shame.
We think, “That’s cute as hell.”
We might say “Wow, look. Nature.”
And if it puts like four sticks together in a pile
We don’t think it’s an abomination.
And if it grabs a bunch of twigs
pulls ‘em all halfway across a tree
stacks ‘em up one at a time
and makes a nest?
We say, “Holy fuck,
I didn’t know insects
made nests. Nature’s
wild.” We don’t say,
“That’s not natural.”
that scales up forever,
So if a little insect brought it upon itself to gather so many twigs that it built a full-scale replica of Atlanta’s Bank of America building, would we be allowed to excommunicate it from nature?
No! It’s an insect doing insect things. And that day, the insect decided to build a full scale replica of the most beautiful building on the Atlanta skyline. So that day, building a full scale replica of the most beautiful building on the Atlanta skyline?
Was insect things.
And further so: the other day, I was trying to concentrate.
I heard someone watching TV.
I heard other people yelling at each other.
Someone else trying to park their car on a busy street.
All these yappers were drowning out the birds I can normally hear,
and I thought damn these people, I wanna hear nature.
Only I was wrong. It wasn’t people drowning out nature.
It was nature drowning out other nature.
We’re all nature.
An insect doesn’t get to get to graduate from being nature once he does something particularly civilized. We didn’t get to graduate from being nature when we invented the concept of being civilized.
So if the whole sky retreats to tiny little
so be it.
It sucks, but it’s not unnatural.
It’s all natural. We’re just insects doing insect stuff.
Thank you for reading. I welcome your thoughts. BUT more importantly, here are my love/hates; my takeaways that might be giveaways for you:
(HATE) Line breaks: I know I’m being so reckless, self-indulgent, or both with the line breaks. I’m an 8 year old with a box cutter. Having a blast, no idea how dangerous it is. That being said, I also think line breaks are pretentious and therefore should be handled roughly. But I also also think they can really show you which words and ideas are meaningful, and which are just hanging out. Another reason to handle them roughly. So I have no regrets, even if I used them
(LOVE) Medium-hopping: Line breaks, I know nothing about. Medium hopping, I do all the time. But my comfort in being good-and-prolific at 2-4 things, and bad-but-still-prolific at 8-10 is not just a chaotic power play. For me, letting an idea jump into whatever medium my brain is most in the mood for lets me (I think; I hope!) capture more ideas.
For instance! In the above poem, there’s this concept of a world that has somehow evaded climate change, but is then so built-up that all of the technology and civilization blots out any image of the sky, except for these little touristy platforms where you can see a glimpse of sky. You read the poem, you know what I’m talking about.
But anyway, this could just as easily be a little flourish of world-building in a science-fiction movie or book. Or I could write a play about a day in the life of the guy who works the come-look-at-the-sky booth. And perhaps I’ll expand the idea in one of those mediums one day. But by building the idea into this poem, I’ve saved it and honored it—for safe keeping in case I need it one day, or just to be a thing itself in case I never need it again.
But I hope I read it a couple more times. I’ve had fun playing with it.
Squid Game. Television. I’m not done, but boy do I love this new Netflix show. No spoilers til I finish!
Corso. Music Video. I’ve been watching the music video from Tyler The Creator’s recent album Call Me If You Get Lost, and this is my favorite so far. Watch to the end for a big laugh.
Nobody Knows the Shadowboxers Like You Do. Podcast. My good friends The Shadowboxers are in a very good band, and they are doing a very cool podcast where they release previously unreleased, but beloved songs; and walk you through how and why music can be both beloved and so unreleased. Certainly a good listen for Shadowboxers fans, but really for anyone who likes hearing musicians talk about music.
Month The Podcast. Podcast. My other good friends Scott, Shelby, and Richard had me on their podcast (which switches themes every month), and it was a treat. If you miss the euphoric chaos of the off-the-rails Word With Friend episodes of the olden days (and why wouldn’t you?), this is a must-listen.
And with that, I’ll say farewell. Take some time to mess around with line breaks and look up at the sky this week.
This is the half show. “Hosting” is a half-show because you don’t do as much of your own jokes if any, but you’re still saying hey between other comedians and generally responsible for the energy and fun of the show. It’ll be a blast.
Negative. Party on.