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The Other Side of Paradise [R]


dedalus
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Cul_Fitz.jpg

 

Let me tell you about the very rich.

They are different from you and me.

They possess and enjoy early,

and it does something to them,

makes them soft, where we are hard,

cynical where we are trustful, in a way that,

unless you were born rich,

it is very difficult to understand.

F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)

 

The rich are different from you and me,

said sad-eyed Fitzgerald, sozzled in Paris,

to which burly Hemingway, the boxer, replied,

yes, they have more money. Inexplicably,

this became the iconic dry reply,

quoted over and over again, finding

its way into all the college textbooks.

But self-doubting Fitz had it right.

 

You are warm inside, I am cold outside.

Knock, knock

 

Daisy Buchanan had a voice full of money,

tinkling, silvery, cold and careless;

with her shining hair and pouting lips,

she had been born to accept convenience.

Coolly, she witnessed the wreckage of lives,

other people’s lives, little people’s lives,

and then she blithely, gently, drifted away,

leaving others to clean up behind.

 

Fitzgerald understood these things

and Hemingway never did. Hem thought

you could bluster and break through, be

a better man than you, a two-fisted man

from Big Two-Hearted River. You could

fight the war from an ambulance,

marry Hadley, write short sentences,

go to bullfights, drink, desert your wife,

 

then marry her friend, shut out your child,

and go off to shoot animals in Africa.

Write stories and then books in short sentences,

get drunk, go fishing, get in a couple of

airplane crashes, go to Cuba, get drunk,

now and then get married some more.

 

It worked. It wasn’t a bad old life.

Successful writer, self-serving asshole

 

until it all came down

to that cold bleak day in Idaho

and to the final metallic taste

of that shotgun on your lips.

Tell me, how did that feel?

 

Nada, Our Father who art in Nada.

Nada is thy name.

 

Mr Famous. Mr Empty, you knew

 

Fitzgerald was much better than you

but you had one thing going, one thing

that he didn’t have: you were not

married to crazy Zelda. You were afraid of him

at first, but then you were able to mock him,

and in the end you simply ran him down.

He was a better writer than you, you knew that,

but the drink and Zelda would wear him down.

 

You feared The Great Gatsby, you could

see the play of a true artist’s life on display,

all the subtle touches that you couldn’t do; hinting

at Robert Louis Stevenson, his kindred writer before him;

Fitzgerald went to the heart of our fascination

with the multiple nature of ordinary lives, a thing

you were broadly (in fact, totally) incapable of,

so you smouldered and damn well hated him for it.

 

You could never write like Fitzgerald, never

uncover a mild Dr Jekyll, a Nick Carroway,

nor revel in his half-horrified fascination

with the things that money can do:

I live in this mansion, Old Sport,

Haven’t quite counted the rooms,

All my suits come from Savile Row,

My shirts come from Jermyn Street,

My shoes, of course, are handmade;

I have servants, wine, food in abundance,

The whole place is lit up like Coney Island.

 

Mr. Nowhere Man from Nowhere.

 

Everything began to fall in place,

In Gatsby’s dreams, in Fitzgerald’s,

and all for the sake of a brittle romance,

shattered, splintered, nearly broken apart.

The first novel, “This Side of Paradise”

sealed his fate. Such early success

condemned him: assured him, fatally, of money,

convinced his Southern belle to marry him.

 

Ooo, let’s go to Paris! cried Zelda,

where all the advanced people go.

One can imagine how well that went down

among the embittered postwar French.

Champagne, champagne, toujours champagne!

The dollar then went a long long way

and all the locals (according to books and diaries)

were landladies, waiters and taxi drivers.

 

Life was grand for Yankee layabouts,

joy was an endless jamboree.

It was 1928, says Fitzgerald,

intermittently, inescapably observant,

that I noticed how soft we'd become.

Some of us were veterans of the War,

but all the local boys on this Italian beach

could have beaten the crap out of us.

 

Hemingway, of course, would have none of it.

He was still boxing in short sentences.

 

Hem, I want you to look at my prick.

Scott, tight, not quite drunk, dragged

his uneasy friend into the gurgling toilets.

Zelda says I'm too small, says I'm no good.

You're only small, says Hemingway,

because you are not aroused. Hey tiger!

I'm telling you, Scotty, pay no attention,

She's an emasculating bitch!

 

You can't say that. She's my wife, godammit!

Ah fuck it, Scott, pull up your trousers.

 

Seventeen drafts for a novel, written again and again

and again, just to get the dialogue, the tone exactly right.

I would say that was serious. Damn the drink and Zelda!

The Saturday Evening Post paid excellent money

in the early years for the popular Fitzgerald stories.

He worked so hard at his craft, in moments of sobriety,

rewriting again and again and again, just, just to

get things exactly right, as if that ever happens.

 

Then suddenly he was no longer popular.

He went to Hollywood on a contract

to write screenplays from nine to five

In a breezeblock California building

with other sad less famous scribblers.

He wrote heartfelt letters to his daughter,

until, finally, the drink did him in,

or else those bruises in his heart.

 

He could see them so clearly through the window.

You are warm inside, I am cold outside.

Knock, knock

The rich are different from you and me.

=================================

 

This is a revision of an older poem (2004-05?) which I cant help but keep coming back to. I read more and more of Fitzgerald and less of Hemingway. I think Hemingway could have saved Fitzgerald as a friend and a writer during their days together in Paris but chose not to do so. The quicker Fitzgerald's life fell apart as a writer and rival, the better it would be for him. I can't prove it, nobody can, but it is hard not to feel this is what happened. Hemingway resented Fitgerald's success and popularity and secretly hoped that drink and his difficult wife would destroy him: before long, they did.

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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abstrect-christ

nice narrative; although it needs an R in the title i believe fort he F-bomb.

Pinhead

"Unbearable, isn't it? The suffering of strangers, the agony of friends.

There is a secret song at the center of the world, Joey, and its sound is like razors through flesh."

Joey

"I don't believe you."

Pinhead

"Oh come, you can hear its faint echo right now. I'm here to turn up the volume.

To press the stinking face of humanity into the dark blood of its own secret heart."

"There's a starving beast inside my chest
playing with me until he's bored
Then, slowly burying his tusks in my flesh
crawling his way out he rips open old wounds

When I reach for the knife placed on the bedside table
its blade reflects my determined face
to plant it in my chest
and carve a hole so deep it snaps my veins

Hollow me out, I want to feel empty"
-- "Being Able To Feel Nothing" by Oathbreaker

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBPy3xNwwL8

"Sky turns to a deeper grey

the sun fades by the moon

hell's come from the distant hills

tortures dreams of the doomed

and they pray, yet they prey

and they pray, still they prey"
-- "Still They Prey" by Cough

https://soundcloud.com/relapserecords/sets/cough-still-they-pray

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abstrect-christ

Lol just helping a fellow member out is all, not taking over over an admin job :-8)

Pinhead

"Unbearable, isn't it? The suffering of strangers, the agony of friends.

There is a secret song at the center of the world, Joey, and its sound is like razors through flesh."

Joey

"I don't believe you."

Pinhead

"Oh come, you can hear its faint echo right now. I'm here to turn up the volume.

To press the stinking face of humanity into the dark blood of its own secret heart."

"There's a starving beast inside my chest
playing with me until he's bored
Then, slowly burying his tusks in my flesh
crawling his way out he rips open old wounds

When I reach for the knife placed on the bedside table
its blade reflects my determined face
to plant it in my chest
and carve a hole so deep it snaps my veins

Hollow me out, I want to feel empty"
-- "Being Able To Feel Nothing" by Oathbreaker

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBPy3xNwwL8

"Sky turns to a deeper grey

the sun fades by the moon

hell's come from the distant hills

tortures dreams of the doomed

and they pray, yet they prey

and they pray, still they prey"
-- "Still They Prey" by Cough

https://soundcloud.com/relapserecords/sets/cough-still-they-pray

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rosschandler

good read. i appreciate the focus taken in producing such profound thought. a heavy purple,orange aura to the poem. spiritual and fiery. neptune squaring mars. you do a good job with imagery and poetic conceit. milton esque.

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Frank E Gibbard

I am reminded of reading and admiring the Gatsby novel, surely worth a read as was this literary polemic Bren. Fascinating.

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An expansive and well written narrative that captures well an atmosphere of those hybrid years for writers between the two world wars. The lines “all the locals (according to books and diaries) were landladies, waiters and taxi drivers.” together with, “The rich are different from you and me.” are most significant. They remind me of the enduring love affair that Hollywood had, (and UK. T/V networks still do,) with Agatha Christie etc:.

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Hi Brendan, I really liked this. I think you captured the two characters to perfection. You weave your magic and we learn, we are affirmed in our own knowledge and we are entertained all in one sweep of your wand. Great sturr.

 

~~Tink

~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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