Announcing The Winner of Miami Writer’s Prize 2014
Way back on November 15, 2014, Artlurker closed its inbox to submissions for the Miami Writer’s Prize. On November 16, 2014, we checked to find only one, single, lonely submission.
Baffled and semi-crestfallen, we debated rigorously for months about whether or not one can win a contest by virtue of being the only contestant. The paradox of this cannot be overstated: Does one technically win if there’s no competition? Is victory gained because the building burnt down, leaving only one?
We here at Artlurker are proud to announce that yes, it counts.
Without further ado, we present to you the winner of the Miami Writer’s Prize 2014, Jason Handelsman. Though the winner by default, we still felt it appropriate to award his idiosyncratic, autobiographical style and voice. For his submission, Handelsman writes about his experiences with film director David Lynch, Transcendental Meditation, et alia.
(Stoner-Rock duo “OM” has a song,
“Meditation is the Practice of Death”)
I’ve interviewed numerous celebrities for online and print publications. There are perks that come with this grind (free concert tickets, merchandise, ride in the Bentley, backstage passes, hundred dollar bills, hangin’ out with Weezy, a bottle of Grey Goose…), but nothing quite like the gift I received from David Lynch.
During my recent interview with the creator of Twin Peaks, our conversation became a platform for him to share an intense passion for Transcendental Meditation (TM). Being a spokesperson for TM, he suddenly began asking me questions. Here I am telling the great DAVID LYNCH how I was once a homeless drug addict who had watched Mulholland Drive every single day for an entire year! After sharing more personal catastrophes, he offered me a “scholarship” from the David Lynch Foundation (DLF). DLF covers the financial costs of TM for “at-risk” people.
I have become a disciplined practitioner of the prescribed, twice-a-day, 20 minute sessions, since 4/19/14. The following is a brief review of my TM experience this morning. While writing this, I happen to be drinking my third cup of David Lynch Coffee, and listening to the OM song mentioned above.
My personal TM mantra was given to me by my TM teacher during the first class. We are never allowed to say the mantra out loud, so please do not ask me what my mantra is. Just know that it’s a “cosmic-sound-vibration:” I adjust myself into a comfortable sitting position and slowly begin the mantra. A familiar dream landscape fills the dark space inside my head.
Within the first few minutes, there’s an encounter with myself in the not so distant future: I’m driving an Aston Martin through downtown Miami. There is a montage of dreams connecting years of Jason Paul Handelsman… bullets fired from neural circuits… “Handelsman, Handelsman, Handelsman.”
I am telepathically connected to Jerry Seinfeld.
Hundreds of millions of images flashing quickly… abstract paintings, sculptures, videos, robots, planets, a virtual Handelsman Reality Show… hovering like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle through the space between one mantra and the next.
There is a point during TM (they call it the ’7 minute hurdle’) where there is a mental click: a prophylactic wraps around the fragile brain as the soul plummets deep into the abyss. David Lynch calls this, “Diving within.” It is so beautiful down there. The TM mantra softens into a feeling instead of a word. Resistance is gone. Sonic waves oscillate, broadcasting the TM mantra’s frequency into earth’s atmosphere.
I have another “Galaxy 5 Grill Code (G5GC)” flashback: I’m talking to “Hitler”, the most feared trap boss in Overtown. He is demonstrating how he opens and closes his lips quickly “like some KGB Morse Code shit” to communicate with other drug dealers on the street, using his gold grill. “It’s all telepathic when you’re on this shit,” he says, “you can read their minds.” I immediately notice shiny gold teeth flashing from every corner as they turn their faces towards Hitler and me. I become well versed in this secret code of the street. Hitler has me working the nightclubs on the outskirts of Overtown; “slangin’ rocks”, heroin, Xanax, and coke to hipsters. At one point, Hitler urged me to get a gold grill of my own. And by the way, I’m not supposed to even have told you that much about the G5GC.
The TM mantra comes back louder than frogs ribbiting in the swamps of heaven. Body muscles relax as digital numbers flash in the brain. “Winning lotto numbers,” whispers a voice as they dissipate and the mantra amplifies. The beautiful mantra, without me consciously noticing, mutates into my last name again: HANDELSMAN… HANDELSMAN… strobe light flashing. I am wearing a Rolex watch and driving a Porsche through the Swiss Alps. “You should not use your own last name as your mantra!” proclaims the internal loudspeaker as I go back to the official TM mantra.
It ripples through my being like feedback from a wall of amplifiers. It fills my brain with an exhilarating high. I notice the sound of a car driving by outside. There’s a humble sensation that it’s been about 20 minutes already. No alarm clock or stopwatch is necessary. The mantra fades away, and I sit with pleasure that kind of reminds me of heroin: deep relaxation, warm peacefulness, awake… yet dreaming.
Every molecule of the brain seems to be on fire. My armchair feels like a King’s throne from the Holy Bible. I am an extra-terrestrial, landing in Miami. I feel refreshed and filled with power.
TM has recharged my battery and filled me with that cosmic juice. The gears turn like a bicycle through the streets of Mars–a hum of wind blowing through the trees of a dark forest[.]
ARTLURKER, established in 2008, was named by WLRN as one of the “9 South Florida Arts and Culture Blogs You Need To Read Right Now,” and is perhaps the longest running Miami-based independent arts and culture blog dedicated to long form criticism and culture writing.
This year’s Miami Writer’s Prize is funded by reader donations and artist Carlos Betancourt. Members of ARTLURKER’s newly formed Advisory Board—a diverse panel of critics and arts professionals—judged the entry.