Saturday, November 9, 2013

I spent nearly five full days (and I do mean from 8 AM to 10 PM) researching and writing sometheing for Wikipedia, and then another four days tinkering with it (an hour here, two hours there) to make sure the text flows and it doesn't have a gazllion spelling errors or dropped words.

Someone asked me why. I don't get paid for it, obviously. Ninety percent of the stuff I write isn't going to be used by more than a handful of people. It consumes lots of money (old books, old magazines, newspaper archives), lots of time. And it doesn't seem to help solve my primary problem in life (which revolves about sex and love). It's not like there are "intelligence groupies" out there -- mega-hot, hung twinks who just want to fuck anyone with a brain.

I can only say that I get interested in something, and start to look up stuff about it. For example, I've seen The Champ on TV a couple of times. It's rather good. I saw it on TV over New Year's, and decided to learn more about it by looking it up on Wikipedia. The article was only a few sentences long! So I thought, "I can improve this..." I looked up some articles on the New York Times Web site (where I have a paid account and have 100 free articles a month from their archives) , did a Google books search on the movie (that service is a motherfucking gold mine), the director, and the actors, and voila! -- Instant article. I'd come up with enough stuff for a five-fold expansion, and so I self-nominated my article for a DYK (half as a way of publicizing to the world that this article is improved, half as a way of self-congratulations).

I like books. One day, I read an article in the Los Angeles Times about Book Soup (a legendary book store in that city) closing. I thought it was so sad to see this great store close. So I did some searching for articles on the Los Angeles Times Web site (where I buy into their archives on an as-needed basis), on the Publisher's Weekly Web site, and on the Web (both for Web pages and in Google News). This was a new article, and had more than 1,500 characters, so I self-nominated for and got another DYK.

But other stuff I just know about. I'm a labor union member, and worked for one for 10 years, and know a lot about labor history. The U.S. Senate Select Committee hearings of 1958-1959 were a huge turning point for labor and American history. They helped turn Sen. John F. Kennedy from a do-nothing rich-boy Senator into a national politician -- and catapulted him to the presidency. His brother, Robert F. Kennedy, was a low-level, right-wing attorney who'd worked for Red-baiter Sen. Joe McCarthy. Suddenly, RFK was catapulted into the national limelight, too. RFK became Attorney General, then a U.S. Senator from New York, and would have been president in 1968 had he not been assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan. Meanwhile, the committee's hearings destroyed Dave Beck, the president of the Teamsters (the largest -- and at the time the most corrupt -- union in the U.S.). But in doing so, the hearings allowed Jimmy Hoffa to become Teamsters president. Yikes! The Committee tried to "get Hoffa," too, but failed. The hearings later became the basis for the movies The Godfather Part II and Goodfellas. Hoffa did get pursued by RFK once he was Attorney General, and went to jail. When he came out, the mob kidnapped and murdered him in one of the most sensational missing-persons cases in American history.

Look at that: What a pivot-point in U.S. history! And why did it happen? All because RFK had taken a vacation on the West Coast and some buddies of him told him (false) horror stories about unions committing widespread violence. RFK came back to D.C. determined to root out the corruption. (In truth, organized crime did have a stranglehold on a number of large unions, and some small unions -- like the Longshoremen -- which were critical. RFK lucked out, and managed to expose that.)

Yet, on Wikipedia there was no article about this. Not only did I want to learn more about the Select Committee, but I had ready access to newspaper archives, books, and other sources about it. The "Book Soup" and "The Champ" articles took (at most) two days to research. But the Select Committee piece took several weeks to research and write.

When I write for Wikipedia, I'm writing about something that interests me. Why else write??? I love volcanoes; when Hunga Tonga erupted, I wrote an article about it. I like labor history; I saw an article about the fascinatingly-named Salad Bowl strike, and wrote about it. (That led to an article about the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act, an article which I basically researched at the same time.) I like economics and U.S. history, and there's been a lot of talk in the past year about how this recession is the "Great Recession" and how FDR did this and that to stop the Great Depression and why isn't Obama doing this and that... I was reading about the New Deal, and so ended up writing about Donald Richberg -- FDR's right-hand-man ("Assistant President," they called him) during the Great Depression), the Economy Act, and the National Industrial Recovery Act (perhaps the most important piece of Depression-era legislation, and which had this awful, stinking, stupid, tiny article). I liked the movie Food, Inc., so I wrote about its director (Robert Kenner) and the company that made it (Participant Media, which also did An Inconvenient Truth). I liked the reality TV show The 1940s House, so wrote the article on it.

I like reading, I like history, I like educating myself about things, I'm curious. I'm not dating or fucking anyone (e.g., no one is taking up a lot of my time), and I like helping other people (maybe someone likes my articles or finds them useful some day).

I don't often improve existing articles. Sometimes I do, but most of the time I'm creating new knowledge. I love that: The thrill of creativity, the enjoyment of creating something totally new that no one else had made yet.

It's why I like painting, cinema, books, music, dance: Creativity thrills me. Creation excites me. I'm intellectually curious, and never bored or staid or dull.

I find this guy to be nearly perfect, physically. (That link is NSFW!!) He could be stupid or smart, no sense of humor or a great one, outgoing or incredibly shy, loud and excited or quiet as a mouse. I don't really care. I like men of all kinds. But if he were boring... or dull? I don't think I could even fall in love with someone as perfect as him if he were dull. Someone so set in their ways that they never grow, never stretch, never reach, never change? That's just death.

I often think I'm a total failure at relationships. If I were a success, I'd be dating or married, right? I'm not, and so I'm realizing how much of a failure I am that them. The most likely reason is that people just don't want find my physically atractive. But I think maybe, also, it's in part because I like that growth in people and in relationships. Maybe everyone else wants to settle down, nest, get boring, get in a rut, never change. Not me. Don't get me wrong, I have my strong tastes and likes, too! I love waking up slow on weekends, luxuriating in breakfast and the newspaper, taking a half hour to drink my cup of coffee, snuggling, taking it easy. It's my ultimate favorite thing to do (outside sex and kissing). I would do it every single weekend for the rest of my life, if I could. That doesn't mean that from noon to midnight on Saturday and Sunday I don't want to be doing other things. And not everything has to be thrilling. I don't need to ride a rollercoaster every moment of every day. So long as it is different, it can be quiet or calm or gentle. Difference is the key. Exploration. Stretching boundaries. Knowing new things. Doing something different. Just don't be too much in a rut. I guess that's a difficult thing for most people to handle. I didn't think it was, but I am realizing it is.

I have friends and acquaintances who are artists. Who spend two or three hours a day painting. A few are writers, who have a routine where they spend two hours each morning and two hours each evening writing. Another is an athletic coach, who himself spends two hours staying in shape and practicing every day before coaching others.

No one asks them why they spend so much time on their art.

I guess, maybe, what I write isn't considered creative or artistic. It's not "sexy" in the way that a painting or novel or dance is. Maybe it's that a painting or novel is something everyone can relate to (the barrier to entry is very low), and is meant for everyone. And almost nothing I write is meant for everyone...

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