The Leonard Cohen Face Turn [Trenchant Edges]
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes, 45 seconds. Contains 1753 words
Welcome back to the Trenchant Edges, the newsletter with some kind of podcast attached to it. I guess.
We’re going to take a break from Epstein today to discuss two projects I’m working on behind the scenes.
This break is less about actually needing a break and more about me needing to figure out how to get the New York Times to share their 2,000 documents about Epstein’s time in prison.
But that’s not all we’re here to talk about.
It was the summer of 1965 in a Toronto where a bored Leonard Cohen sat on a sagging couch playing with a mouth organ and playing with singing his poetry while a couple friends had sex in another room, apparently enjoying the music he made.
After a while, he decided.
I’m going to become the joker
“I think I’m going to record myself singing my poems”
A friend in the room asked him not to.
He ignored her.
Anyway, I’m not a poet or musician. But I guess I’m a podcaster now.
And it’s that turn from writing to performing is that’s most on my mind right now.
It kind of solves my issue of how to avoid gating content while making subscriptions actually valuable beyond just wanting to help me pay some bills.
Which is cool.
And hell, I enjoy it. I spent a few months doing college radio back in 2008 and always kind of wanted to get back to do but never really had a chance to.
So we’re going to keep up with that. Even this very newsletter.
Folks seem to like it.
So now let’s talk about about paying the piper, by which I mean me.
Here’s the deal: Full episodes of the podcast are going to be subscriber only.
Both will come out @ the same time. Expect some hiccups around production.
Everyone else will get a 5-10 minute clip of the podcast where I pull out some interesting bit plus the musical accompaniment.
Did I mention music? Yeah. We’re going to have some fun with this.
Audio production is a huge extra step for me and I’m doing the whole thing kind of blind. So it’s an extra 1-2 hours/newsletter.
But this way the content itself isn’t paywalled, just the extra labor intensive way to consume it.
I think that’s pretty fair.
(And, frankly, anyone who can’t afford it is still welcome to just ask me, a little under half my 85 “paid subscribers” were comped for various reasons from asking to doing stuff for me)
Since there’s going to be a teething period, I’m going to keep the subscription discount in place. But once I’m satisfied I’ve got a strong production pipeline in place, I’m upping the the price for new subs.
Will that be a week? A month? I don’t know. Neither do you. That’s right, it’s scarcity o’clock. If I’m gonna be doing audio, I need enough subscribers to actually justify the cost/effort of me putting this out.
Now let’s talk about the other thing brewings.
Did I Mention I’m Writing A Novel?
It doesn’t have a good name yet and I dislike my first chapter, but I’m doing National Novel Writing Month again.
The novel is about class warfare & secrets in a West Virginia racked by climate change, a fully implemented Internet of Things, and Infrastructure collapse.
That’s right, the rural cyberpunk novel I’ve been threatening for a couple years.
It stars Rache and “Scarlett”. If Rache had been born a generation or two sooner with more connected parents she’d have been an engineer or scientist. Since she grew up in Mason County after the money ran out, she just taught herself to fix stuff. She’s run a quiet little contracting gig for locals who want to get a little more out of the shit they buy. She likes neighbors who don’t bother her and dislikes not being paid.
“Scarlett” doesn’t have to worry about not being paid because she owns her own business, helping other people own their own business helping people. Oh shit, no, she’s in a new age multilevel marketing cult. And she’s not going to have a great time finding out what that means and what getting out will cost.
Yes, their names are a Sherlock Holmes reference. “Scarlett” will probably get a different name once I finish rereading A Study in Scarlett. Probably one of those Mormons from the weird center bit.
Rache start’s the novel off in the back of the county Sheriff’s truck and not thrilled about it.
Here’s a bit:
She held her face, only illuminated by cross hatched screenlight, as a mask to hide. She gripped the cold water bottle tighter and thought of her grandpa’s big belly laughs when he taught her to play poker:
“Your face says what cards you’re holding. Can’t give that for free kiddo.”
But Rache was locked in the back seat of a big truck speeding down a highway. It was a rare diesel engine still in service. She tried not to think about where it was going. But she could feel the armored weight of the thing being dragged forward by it’s oversized engine.
Its fresh paint read “Sheriff’s Department” and “To Protect and Serve” on the outside. Still shining like new even though they’d only been donated to the Mason County Sheriff’s office.
She wasn’t handcuffed. And the Sheriff had even apologized to her about keeping her in the back. The computer screens took up too much space in between her and the Deputy. Offered a bottled water, reverse osmosis because no one drank tapwater.
It’s gonna be a lot of fun.
Subscribers get an ebook of everything I do as part of their subscription ;-)
Working Title? Mothman Noir
Anyone who preorders the sucker gets it in whatever edition I end up coming out with. It’s a bit like a kickstarter: Gamble an extra $5 and maybe you’ll wind up with an audiobook & hardcopy. Really just depends if there’s enough interest in a physical book to justify a print run.
If subscribers want to see the awful process of me drafting a novel as it happens… let me know.
But Wait, There’s More!
I’ve also been quietly tinkering & editing the first volume of collected essays of this very newsletter.
I lost track how many words I’ve written for this, but it’s something like 150,000 in 176 newsletters.
Most of them merely hastily edited.
But there’s a lot of really good writing there. Good enough I want to take a couple months and polish it to be excellent.
Of course, that means both going over and organizing everything myself and then hiring an editor to help me bash it all into shape.
Here’s the Table Of Contents (tennative):
Fishing In The Abyss
OK, honestly, looking at this I think we’re probably going to have to cut this into a couple books.
I really burned myself on Terence Mckenna and Marshall McLuhan (who I’ve also cut), and I’m very much not happy with how a lot of those pieces have gone.
Like the Novel, what formats this end up as will depend on how much y’all care.
I don’t really want to do a print run smaller than 200 for any book (and they only start getting reasonably priced per unit after at least a thousand).
As with anything I do, the ebook will go to paid subscribers in several formats when it’s done.
What I’m literally gonna do is figure out who’s ever sent me money on this platform & then give them all the link to it. So even if you drop $5 today, you’ll get it. Wait, $4 today because the sale is still on. For now.
So that gives folks some options on how to approach this.
Subscribe, even for a month, and you’ll get the ebook.
Preorder and you’ll get the ebook and any print/audiobook I might do if they’re commercially viable. Those who preorder from this product will also get the likely second volume as long as I haven’t
So, options for everything:
All paid subscribers get all ebooks, and full recordings of every newly released essay.
Ok, but why?
So, if you’ve gotten this far you’re probably wondering why I’m going this hard on selling shit. The answer is simple: We’re hitting the hardest months for freelancing in my industry and I’m, uh, changing careers.
I’ve been doing pretty much the minimum required to keep myself afloat this year as I decided how I wanted to navigate the next 5-10 years. I decided on data analysis for two reasons: First, it’s a skill I want. Second, it’s flexible in how I can be employed in the field so I’m not locked into a skillset I can only use to serve corporations.
There’s a lot it can do for this very project. And that's surely coming.
In addition, I’ve got a few other reasons beyond production.
I owe people money and would like to be able to pay them back even if certain clients continue not to fully pay me back. Including my very patient mom who’s reading this (hi mom! And thank you).
I need to spend about $350 on shipping the last of the merch run I did this year to some very lovely and patient people.
I need a new couch.
I *should* by all rights have that all covered from client income. I would prefer not to rely on my clients to meet my obligations.
With my age and injury, I can no longer really risk homelessness so this seems like a way I can offer a lot of cool stuff to people while also getting my current needs met.
Now, that new couch probably sounds like I’m exaggerating. Surely that’s a want, right?
And while it’s nice that this newsletter brings in $269/month right now, it needs to bring in 3-4x that to really justify the amount of time I spend on it.
Especially now that there’s audio to record and edit.
It’s not all bad though, I’ll be restructuring content to suck a little less as a podcast so things will be a bit more organized.
Oh, and now every episode ends with music by some artist you probably have never heard before who rules and you should absolutely listen to.
Today it’s Glasgow’s own Stephen Durkan.
Listen to the whole thing, it rules.
If you make music and think I’d like it, just reply to the email with where I can listen to it. Thanks in advance!
This Is The End
Alright, that’s it. That’s the essay.
I’m out of Apocalyptica to barf.
Full steam ahead despite my crippled ass.
Well, crippled lumbar muscles.
If you enjoyed any of this weird mess, don’t forget to subscribe, comment, or share this with one person you think would really enjoy it.