Monday, May 18, 2009


I'm back. Last week wasn't an "I'm done" week. It was just one of those periods where I had very little free time, and what little time I did have was not spent sitting in front of a computer.

Some very good things happened this past week. Also, some bad things happened.

I am status quo.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Quick Getaway

More professional athletes are currently using illegal Performance Enhancing Drugs than you could ever imagine.

If you don't think this is the case, then you're naive.

Genetics only take you so far.

People who use steroids and growth look a certain way. People who don't use them don't look that way. Those of us who've been around it can discern this look from a mile away.

I know what I'm talking about.

Alex Rodriguez is full of shit.

This reminds me of the 70's and 80's, when people weren't sure whether professional wrestling was fake or not.

Wake up and take off the pink socks. All sports are dirty. Saying your prayers and taking your vitamins won't get you $252 million.

I still love sports.

I am no longer feeling pathetic.

Thank you.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

More Running

I did 45 minutes of Long Slow Distance (LSD) today. I have no idea how far I went, but it was probably somewhere in the vicinity of 4.5 miles. I took it slow, recovering from the past two training days.

Here’s what I thought about while I was running:

I thought about acceptance. I thought about accepting that something is wrong, accepting the consequences that come with something being wrong, and accepting the fact that trying to “quick fix” the various consequences won’t solve the main problem.

Think of me as a guy with the flu.

When you have the flu, you have a sore throat, a fever, a cough, the chills, a runny nose, and pains all over your body. What do most people do when this happens? Well, if you have medical insurance – and some sense – you go to a doctor, get a prescription for some antibiotics, then go home, go to bed, and sweat it out. This, however, is not what I do when I get the metaphorical “flu.”

Here’s what I’ve done for many, many years:

I caught myself a nice little flu bug a few years back, but couldn’t see the forest for the trees, if you will. I only saw a collection of symptoms (consequences), and I tried to attack them one by one instead of putting everything together and going to the source.

I said, “Man, if I could only get rid of this runny nose, I’ll be fine.” So, I went to the pharmacy, bought some nasal spray and made my nose stop running. Meanwhile, I was still coughing and feverish, and I had the chills like a motherfucker. And my throat was killing me.

So, I took some cough syrup and put a few extra blankets over me, but I forgot to keep using the nasal spray, so my nose started running again, and I still had a fever and my throat felt like it was on fire.

I gargled with some salt water and took a painkiller, but I’d kicked off the blankets, lost the nasal spray and forgotten to take another spoonful of cough syrup.

I could go on, but I think you get the point here.

When you don’t treat the flu, when you pretend you don’t have it and go about your business, out in the cold, like it’s not happening, it turns into pneumonia. Ignore the pneumonia and you’re fucked.

That’s my metaphor for stopping a backslide and protecting what you’ve got left. My flu was about to turn into pneumonia. Maybe it already did, but a conversation with a guy I’ll call The Pro made me change the way I look at things.

“Look at the people you’ve surrounded yourself with,” he said to me.

Continuing this flu charade, those people are my arms, legs, mind, heart and talent. I still have those things. The flu can’t kill them off. It tried, but it hasn’t. You treat the flu at the source, the symptoms go away. And, in time, you’re as good as new.

That’s what’s happening right now.

Saturday Final

“You wanna go?”

“Yeah.” It was getting late. Half past midnight, which for me is late on a Saturday night these days. I’d had enough of the bars, enough of the beer, enough of the locals and enough trying to get around things.

“She’s coming back to the house.”

“Yeah, I know,” I said.

“I’m just letting you know.”

“It’s your house, man. When do I ever give a shit about that?”

“Well, you know...” he started.

I held up a hand and stopped him cold. “Dude, I don’t give a fuck. All night I’m telling you I don’t give a fuck. I told you fifteen times already, I’m just happy bein’ out of the house.”

See, when you’re divorced with a couple of kids, you gravitate toward other people who are divorced with a couple of kids. And when you’re a guy and she’s a girl, you find a night when you both don’t have your kids, and, well, you take care of your needs. This was one of those nights, and our girl friend, Divorced Girl, was one of those girls.

My guy friend, Divorced Guy, has been divorced for a year and a half. This is what he does. This is what they do. It’s a repeating loop. Sometimes I’m the third wheel.

We’re older now, and we’re starting to take some hits.

We walked home. All three of us. Together. I walked in the house, poured myself a glass of wine – it was all Divorced Guy had on hand – sat on the couch and turned on the TV.

“Are you okay?” asked Divorced Girl.

“Yeah,” I replied. “I’m fine.”

“Really? Listen, if you want to talk or anything...”

“Look, I really appreciate it, but I’m all talked out. I’m fine. Honest. You guys do whatever you want. I’m just gonna sit here on the couch, drink wine, watch Star Trek and spin my phone around on the coffee table.”

“Oh, you poor thing,” she said. “If you need anything...”

“Stop with the ‘poor thing’ shit already,” I interrupted. “Have I been a fucking sad sack all night? Have I been a drain on anyone’s evening?”

“Of course not.”

“I was good tonight, wasn’t I?” I asked. “I didn’t do anything stupid.”

“Yeah, you were great. You’ve never not been great.”

“That was all I needed for tonight. I’m done. Go have fun. I’m fine right here.”

I poured more wine into a glass with a stem and brought it back into the TV room. I set it on the coffee table, on a coaster. I don’t know why I need to put glasses with stems on coasters, but it seems like the right thing to do, like even though the wine is at room temperature, it’s suddenly going to cool down, form condensation on the stem and leave a ring mark on the veneer. I’ve never seen a wine glass do this, but I always use a coaster.

Maybe it seems to ease the landing a bit.

I put a throw pillow on the coffee table’s glass top and set my feet on it as gently as I could. I tucked my phone under my crotch so I could feel it if it vibrated. I heard laughter coming from the basement.

Then I fell asleep. I don’t remember my dream, but I woke up knowing around wasn't good enough anymore. The only way out is through.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Why Bouncers Are Dumb And Stupid

In the bouncing community in New York – at least within the one I belong to – I’m a nodal point. Malcolm Gladwell would call me a “connector.” I’m the bridge between disparate cliques, sets and solos.

In other words, I’m one of the guys you call when you need a phone number, or when you need to get in touch with a guy because you need him to work.

That’s how it works with bouncing. The head bouncer at a club usually doesn’t have a master sheet with everyone’s number on it. Head bouncers aren’t that organized. Instead, on a staff of, say, thirty guys, he’ll have five or six guys like me who know everyone. And he’ll call those five or six guys and tell them to spread whatever word he’s looking to spread.

Some guys stay with one little clique and they never move out of it. When we sit around waiting to start a shift, they're always with the same three guys, every night, and they never talk to anyone else. I've done cliques. You get sick of guys. I need variety. Other guys are lone wolves. They sit by themselves and never talk to anyone. Lone wolves don’t last long.

I talked to everyone when I worked in the city. I made friends with everyone. On a staff of thirty guys, I’d have twenty-eight phone numbers by the time I was done. I was Paul Revere. When I put the word out, the militia locked and loaded.

Even in my semi-retirement, I’m still part of the crew. Still a connector. Witness tonight’s timeline of stupidity:

8:30 AM: Head Bouncer calls Bouncer A, asking him to call Bouncer B to tell him to be at work at 7 since it was Cinco de Mayo and they were expecting a crowd.

8:35 AM: Bouncer A doesn’t have Bouncer B’s phone number, so he calls me – even though I no longer work at this club – asking me to call Bouncer B and tell him to be at work at 7.

8:40 AM: After exchanging small talk with Bouncer A, I call Bouncer B, only to find out he’s changed his number.

8:42 AM:
I text Bouncer C the following: “Call Bouncer B and tell him to be at work at 7.”

8:45 AM:
Bouncer C texts me back with Bouncer B’s phone number. This wasn’t what I asked for, but okay. Bouncer C is a bit of an imbecile, so I shrugged my shoulders and forged ahead with this charade.

8:46 AM: I call Bouncer B and leave him a message telling him to report to work at 7.

Now, note the time stamp here:

6:15 PM: My phone rings, and it’s Bouncer B.

“Am I working at Club Slapdick tonight?”

“Uh, yeah? Did you not get my message this morning?”

“No,” he says. “I didn’t get any message.”

“Why are you calling me, then?”

“Because Bouncer C called me and said I should ask you if I’m working tonight.”

“When was this?” I ask.

“Just a minute ago.”

“Don’t you think it’s a little odd that Bouncer C, who has your phone number and talks to you five days a week, would ask me, who hasn’t spoken to you in six months, to tell you when to go to work?”


Fast forward again:

10:45 PM: My phone rings with a number I don’t recognize. I pick up, and it’s Bouncer C’s nominal girlfriend. She found my number in his phone one day, and now she calls me whenever he's engaging in shenanigans, which is often.

“Where the fuck is this motherfucker?”


“This motherfucker,” she says, “told me he was working, and I called there and they said he wasn’t there.”

These scenes happen regularly, even though I haven’t worked at any of these clubs in over two years now. They still call me. They still pull me in. It’s wacky.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Running Man

I did a post on running last week, but I want to go over it again because it’s something I’m starting to enjoy.

For large chunks of my life, my 5:30 AM runs were a staple. Running early was something I did like breathing throughout high school and through long periods of my adulthood. I’d wake up around 5:15, take a hot shower – my warm-up – and get on the road. I’ve never needed to stretch much or do any kind of extended warm-up as an athlete, so I’d just get going. I know this about myself because, knock wood, I’ve never once, in all my years of running, lifting and playing competitive sports, pulled a hamstring. I had one nasty adductor pull a couple of years ago that was caused by stupidity, but that’s been it.

I get outside and I go.

I started doing these AM runs again last week. Last Tuesday and Thursday, and today – my third run of the week happens on Saturday afternoon – I was up well before the sun came up, showered, and in motion.

Things work themselves out when I run. Dramas play out in my head, and they’re resolved by the time I hit certain objective points on my route. Then something else pops into my head to whirl and churn until I hit the next mile marker, where it fades into the next thought. And the next. And the next. And so on.

And then I have days like today, where I’m rested and ready after taking two days off, and I can push things a little without payback, and I roll through the finish line of my 3+ mile course two minutes faster than I did on Saturday. And when that happens, I start liking myself a little better, which is something I haven’t been able to do in quite a while.

I’m not planning on going crazy with this, because I still love lifting heavy weights in the gym, but I’m sure as hell intrigued by how it’s making me look and feel. When I run at 5:30 in the morning, I’m a 16-year-old kid again with a football season in front of me and a job to get done, and it finally feels good to be me again -- and that's been a long time in coming, believe me.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled cynicism, negativity and antagonism...


“You wanna go across the street?”

I wedged the heels of my hands into my eye sockets and rubbed, hard, spreading a half dozen strains of Swine Flu across both my corneas. “Yeah,” I said. “What the hell.”

“It might be a little more crowded over there,” said my guy friend. “Do you mind?”

“I don’t give a fuck,” I replied, pulling a ten off the stack of bills I’d left on the bar. “I like going out the back over there when I need a break. It’s quieter.”

“You’ll need a break from these people.”

“Ah, whatever man. I don’t give a fuck about anything tonight. I’ll just sit and listen.”

I let him lead the way across the street. We slid between two parked cars, me following him, and stopped on the opposite sidewalk. The grocery store where I’d worked the deli counter as a kid had installed new front doors. I wondered what the fuck was wrong with the old ones. I resisted the urge to spit on the sidewalk because I wasn’t sure why I wanted to do that. I liked working the deli counter. When people fucked with me, I’d thicken up their slices. Be a rude shit to your deli guy and you’ll end up with ham steaks in wax paper, or worse. I never took the “or worse” road, but I know guys who did.

Inside, he introduced me to about a half dozen people. Three of them had cigarettes behind one ear. Two of the three shook hands and excused themselves to go out back. That left one guy with a cigarette behind his ear. I knew him once, years ago, but I’d never seen him with a cigarette behind his ear. I figured there’d been a downturn. You don’t wear a cigarette behind your ear if you’re still in the game.

“Hey Tim,” I said. “How you been?”

“Not bad,” he replied, fishing for his lighter. “How you been, man? I’m gonna go out back for a cigarette.”

“Good seein’ you.”

I turned to my guy friend and tapped him on the elbow with the back of my hand. Four times. “Get me a fuckin’ Sam Adams, man. Please.”


“You need money?”

“No,” he replied. “I got it.”

I shadowed him to the bar, not wanting any engagement with the rest of the crowd he’d come there to meet. I stared at myself in the mirror behind the bar. Talk about a rotten fucking time. I took my first sip of Sam before the head went anywhere. There’s a kind of sucking action there. Then I took another. Quickly. Half the pint was gone before my guy friend pocketed his change.

“What’s this mean?” asked my guy friend, running a finger over a tattoo of Japanese characters on the arm of one of the girls who’d had a cigarette behind her ear.

“This one means beautiful,” she said, her finger on one, “and the other one means girl. Beautiful girl.”

“You sure about that?” I asked, looking at the tattoo, then looking at her. Nicotine was in the air.

“Yeah,” she replied. “I looked it up in a book and brought it in with me.”

“Oh.” I took another long sip of Sam Adams. I was down to about a quarter of a glass left. “I thought it said, ‘I like moose cock.’”

“No, my tattoo artist is a girl.”

Monday, May 04, 2009

I Humped a Pillow My First Time

“You know,” said my friend, a guy, “I’ve been jerking off to your sister for twenty years now. Maybe more.”

I picked up my glass, took a sip of Yuengling, then put it back on the coaster. “What the fuck is with the Yuengling? Can’t we do a little better than this?”

“What’s wrong with Yuengling?”

“What’s wrong with it,” I replied, “is that it’s all they got on tap in this fuckin’ shithole, and I don’t wanna spend six bucks on a fuckin’ bottle.”

“Did you even hear what he said before that?” asked my other friend, a girl. “Why would you say that?”

“I’m just being honest. She’s hotter now than she was in college.”

“Are you listening to this?” asked the girl, turning to watch me take another sip of warm fucking Yuengling. I need drinks cold. Ice cold. Especially beer. I’m Irish, and I’ve spent a good bit of time getting my testicles kicked in Galway and Limerick – especially Galway for the testicle thing – but the rivers of my aversion to warm, or even slightly chilled, beer run wide and deep.

I also tend to avoid the issue of having an allegedly “hot” sister to whom my friends have pleasured themselves since puberty.

“Yeah, I heard him,” I said. “Nothing I haven’t heard before.”

“From him?”

“No, not from him, necessarily, which is why this is a little awkward and why I started bitching about the Yuengling, which is still warm and still tastes like cat piss.”

I always say drinks taste like cat piss because there was a guy at my old gym who smelled like cat piss. It bothered the members so much that management eventually sent him a letter telling him not to come in smelling like cat piss. That was the right thing to do.

He used to follow me around the gym, did Cat Piss Guy. I swear he did, even though people said I had some kind of persecution complex, or maybe paranoia. I don’t know about all that, but I always had the feeling Cat Piss Guy was some gay old chicken hawk type who followed guys around the gym, and when I was there, I was a target.

I also have a friend who used to look like Jesus. We went to The Vault in Manhattan one night because we wanted to see what the fuck it was, and when I went into the bathroom to take a leak, a guy laid down on the floor and asked me to piss on him. Cat Piss Guy reminds me of the guy on the floor at The Vault. Also, I sat next to the Jesus Looking Guy at a funeral mass once, and when the priest read the lines “now we turn to Jesus” from a passage, I turned and stared at him.

“Did you have a picture of her or something?” my girl friend asked my guy friend. “How does that work?”

“You don’t need a picture,” he replied. “It’s better without a picture, because you can close your eyes.”

“Yeah,” I added, “I was never big on getting images out of magazines and shit as a kid. When I actually figured out how to do it, I used to walk around school going up to girls and thanking them.”

“No you didn’t.”

“Yeah, I did. I was fucked up. I used to walk up to girls and say, ‘Listen, I just wanna thank you for being so good to me last night.’”

“You’re full of shit,” she said. “You never did that.”

I pursed my lips, sucked in the dregs from my glass, put it down on the bar and slid it forward, adding a little pull-back spin with my fingertips. You spin the glass and you play around with money, and the next thing you know, the bartender’s in front of you. Funny how that works.

Watch your bartender next time he gives you some money back. See if he puts it in a puddle. Bartenders do that for tips because they know people don’t want to put wet bills back in their pockets. Overfill the drink, put it down on the bar, wait for the mark to pick it up, then slap the bills down in the puddle. That’s how they get extra.

“He did do that,” said my guy friend. “I remember.”

“What if he walked up and said that to your sister?” asked my girl friend.

“He knows better,” I said. I was tired.

Friday, May 01, 2009


Let’s be perfectly frank here. I think everyone who’s been reading this blog for a few weeks is aware that I’m stuck in the middle of a situation (of my own making) that I really, really don’t want to be in, and there’s not a hell of a lot I can do about it at the moment, so I’m stuck.

So I’m pretty much just burying myself in work, training and reading. I promised you some book reviews a couple of weeks ago, so I’ll start that today because I don’t want to write another cryptic post about “making changes,” or “acceptance,” or “moving forward” or anything else like that – although I’ve pretty much already done that in these first two paragraphs.

Anyway, I’ve read three books recently. My reviews here will be very straightforward. I’m not planning on doing anything other than telling you to either read the book or not. If you see me “analyzing” anything, it probably means I didn’t like it. Here they are:

High Exposure, by David Brashears: I went through the whole Into Thin Air inspired Everest books phase back in the late 90’s, but the Divorced Guy’s father gave me this one so I read it. It’s definitely more technical, from a climbing standpoint, than any of the others, but it fits into the typical Everest book theme of “I’m right and everyone else is wrong,” and that grated on me a bit – although, yes, I’m aware that when a guy writes a book, it’s necessarily going to be his opinion. It’s just that in all the accounts I’ve read of the Everest disaster, everyone has a different version, and everyone else was at fault.

So, I don’t really know what to make of this one. If you’re into rock or mountain climbing, you’ll like it. It’s not exactly a narrative geared for the general public the way Into Thin Air was, which I think was the problem for me, since I don’t know enough about climbing, or about who David Brashears is, to have enjoyed this book the way I should have.

Ask The Dust, by John Fante: This is one of the better books I’ve read in my lifetime. I don’t know if it’s considered a classic, since I’d never heard of John Fante until a few months ago, but it definitely should be. As the person who recommended this to me said, John Fante writes like Charles Bukowski wishes he could have.

Motherless Brooklyn, by Jonathan Lethem: This is another good choice. Read this, especially if you grew up anywhere within the five boroughs of New York City. Absolutely fucking outstanding. This is going to sound cheesy, hackneyed, clichéd and entirely “unprofessional,” but I couldn’t put this book down.

Ironic how I dedicated 176 words to the book I had to force myself to finish, and a paragraph each to what are probably the two best books I’ve read this year. I suppose that’s just the kind of week I’m having – opposite, backward, and spitting in the face of logic.

As for how I feel about this, I refer you to “Danphe and the Brain,” from Mogwai’s The Hawk is Howling album. That about sums it up.