Wednesday, September 29, 2010


I was “assigned” a topic a few weeks ago, and after a few stops and starts where I didn’t think I was on the right track, I think I’m finally onto something. The topic in question is thoughtfulness - something that, unfortunately, has been a foreign concept to me in recent months.

I’m at a point right now where I’m just fucking fed up with myself on multiple levels. This isn’t anything serious, but it involves the level of effort I’ve been putting in with various parts of my life. I’m not “happy” professionally, per se, but I have a nice little platform to advance from, and I know I have – and will continue to develop – the skills to do a hell of a lot more with everything. I’m not unhealthy, per se, but my effort level at the dining table and in the gym hasn’t measured up to my own expectations, and it’s been showing, big time. My complaint about myself here is just a laundry list of shit at which I haven’t been trying hard enough.

That’s where thoughtfulness comes in. The easy cop-out response to a question about thoughtfulness would entail an explanation of how I’m poised to do all the little things necessary to make everyone else happy – or at least to let others know I’m thinking of their well being. That shit’s easy, because I was raised that way, and I’ve always taken pride in having an almost preternatural awareness of what the people around me need in terms of courtesy and consideration. That’s not an issue, and it never has been.

What is an issue, and what will continue to be an issue if I don’t put a stop to it immediately, is my own inability to take advantage of opportunities when they come up – and believe me, they come up all the time. It’s as though I work just hard enough to put myself in position to do something good, and then I turn around and coast and fail to take the steps necessary to put myself over the top.

This piss-poor effort level runs contrary to the concept of thoughtfulness in this case because I tend to raise expectations and then massively under-deliver when it’s time to move on things. That’s been happening a little too much over the past year or so, and it’s a bothersome situation for me because I know the root cause of the problem, and because I also know how to solve it but haven’t taken the requisite steps thus far.

When people expect something out of you – a certain level of performance, or maybe for you to simply be at your best on a certain day – and you mail in some shitty effort because you haven’t taken the time to properly prepare and execute a plan, it’s a lack of foresight on your part, and you’re not being thoughtful. You’re fucking things up for yourself, and you’re fucking things up for others who’ve erroneously invested time and energy in you.

I’m in a position where people expect things from me, and I’m not merely talking about what happens “in public” or professionally. The idea, then, is to be ready when things come around – when I have a chance to do something really good with my own life or for someone else I’d like to either bring into my life or keep there.

If you’re not ready 24/7, and you haven’t taken the time to prepare yourself physically, mentally and professionally, you’re not being thoughtful.

It’s like sitting on the bench for eight innings of a baseball game, then being asked to pinch hit in a clutch situation. If you haven’t been following the game, you haven’t watched film of the pitchers you’ll potentially be facing and you didn’t address the things you needed to work on in batting practice, you’re fucked, and you’re fucking over a long list of people, including your teammates and the 50,000 people who bought tickets to see you play.

That’s where I’ve been recently – sitting on the bench with my thumb up my ass, distracted, not paying attention to the game, and out of shape from not taking my reps in the batting cage. Sorry for the cheesy sports metaphor, but it fits here because I’ve been caught too many times over the past year with my pants around my ankles when opportunities have been sitting there waiting for me on silver platters. And that, my friends, is not what I’d call being thoughtful to anyone. Nor is using fifty different cliches during the course of one paragraph, but that's another issue entirely.

So, fuck that. That’s not going to happen anymore. I’m very much sick and tired of watching shit pass me by while I make excuse after excuse for why I’m not ready to jump. It’s been a complacent year, but all that’s done now, because I’m not a thoughtless prick, whether we’re talking about my treatment of myself or of others. If you know me, or you work with me, or you’re waiting for me to just fucking do something, rest easy.

Shit’s finally under control again.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Facebook: A rather unfortunate way of finding out most of your friends are far stupider than you've ever imagined.


This one was originally published on July 14, 2004. I disagree with presenting myself as a "big, doofy white guy," but other than that, I've always thought this was a pretty good story. I forgot about the night when he offered me a cordless phone, but in thinking about it, I also remember him offering me a really shitty bookcase for free, and a weight bench for $20. I barely knew the guy, and dealings with him were always fairly surreal.

I'm going to attempt to interject some racial humor at this point, and we'll see how things go. I'll preface this post by stating that my intention is to relate this story exactly as it happened. I'm just a big, doofy white guy, and I played absolutely no part in the following sequence of events. I'm merely a conduit of information here.

One of the bouncers at the club is a massive Jamaican dude named Trevor. Trevor is stationed, somewhat appropriately, I suppose, in the 'Hip-Hop Room,' which is located on the opposite side of the club from my two spots out on the dock. I've not had much significant interaction with Trevor, other than greetings and goodnights, simply because I only see the man at the beginning and end of our shifts. A few weeks ago, he inexplicably offered to give me a used cordless phone in the parking lot at the end of the night, but I declined.

Saturday night, there was an altercation between two black guys in the Hip-Hop Room. I heard the call on the radio, and saw the familiar cluster of bouncers and ejected customers heading for the front door, so I ran up there in order to provide extra backup. Even if an ejection is not necessarily your 'show,' you still have to respond to the call and mill around on the periphery in case there's a flareup. I've covered this previously.

Outside, Trevor was engaged in a heated argument with one of the combatants. Actually, I take that back. The customer was heated. Trevor's island lilt was so calm I was tempted to go check his pulse. The customer evidently took offense at having been manhandled by a Jamaican bouncer.

"Fuck you, coconut muthafucka!"

"Don't make it be like dat, mon. You got to go home now."

"Yo, fuck you, island muthafucka. Why you even workin' here muthafucka? All you island muthafuckas do is come here and take jobs away from us n*****s!"

"Yo, mon, de only ting you got right is dat you're a n****r."

Friday, September 24, 2010

The future looks bleak

Here's one from June 2004. Take a look at the weird quote format I used to use -- which I can't really explain. I suppose it made sense to me back then, but I really have no idea what I was trying to accomplish there. The story is still pretty funny, though. I miss working at the place I wrote about here. I made a shitload of money there, relatively speaking, although in one of the other old posts I considered republishing, I was bragging about collecting $20 for letting a guy park his car in an illegal spot. $20? Dude, are you fucking serious? Man, did I throw away money when I first started doing this shit...

Also, "Phil" is now one of my Facebook friends. He can't spell and his grammar is horrendous. Funny guy, though.

The head muckety-muck at the Club -- in a position I believe is akin to being the owner's right hand man -- is a diminutive gentleman whom we'll call 'Phil.' Phil is about 5'5", 125lbs, and you'll see him, throughout the night, zipping through the crowd like quicksilver, flitting from place to place attending to all the various problems with which the night invariably presents him.

As the evening wears on, most of the chatter in my earpiece involves Phil -- dress code and guest list problems at the door, register and liquor supply problems at the bars, and volume or playlist issues with the DJ. I'd estimate at least ninety percent of the calls on the radio come in imploring, "Phil, pick up! Phil, pick up!" Phil seems to suffer from a variety of neuroses, and the constant calls on the radio provoke him to the point where, as the club hits peak hours, he's teetering on the edge of a complete and total nervous breakdown. His responses to radio calls at this point are often hilarious. A case in point occured last night, when I devirginated myself to the phenomenon that is "Phil, pick up."

In one of a series of completely pointless, nonsensical diversions within the club, we evidently employ a psychic, who does readings at a table near my post at the dock. I was unaware of this fact until last night around midnight, when she asked me to call Phil on the radio and inform him that an emergency had arisen, and that she'd have to go home for the evening. The conversation went as follows:

"Phil, pick up. Phil, pick up."
"Go for Phil."

"Phil, it's Rob on the dock. The psychic told me to call you and tell you that she has an emergency and she has to go home."
"Why are you telling me this?!? Why the fuck are you telling me this?!? Do you think I give a shit about the fucking psychic?!?"

"I don't know, Phil. That's what she told me to tell you."
"What's the emergency?"

"I don't know, Phil. She won't say."
"Ask her why she came to work."

"She wants to know why you're asking her that."
"Because she should have known she was going to have an emergency. She's a fucking psychic!!!"

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Nothing Happened

I haven’t written about this much, but one of the reasons posting here has been so sporadic over the past couple of years is because I was living in Los Angeles for part of that time.

This blog, and everything about it – the tone, the scenery, the plotlines and everything else – is all connected to New York for me. This sounds like a load of creative-type bullshit coming from me, but I’d sit down to write something on the blog while I was living in LA, and I just couldn’t do it. It felt wrong. The energy was wrong. Everything about it was wrong. I felt as though putting dispatches from LA on this site was a little like pissing on my own bed, so I didn’t do it.

I liked LA well enough, but I liked it for all the wrong reasons, which means I probably wouldn’t like it if I ever moved back. I liked being alone, I liked having time to think, and I liked concentrating on nothing but building my new career and constantly working. I didn’t know anyone, rarely went out, and did very little aside from going to the gym, reading and watching the entirety of several cancelled sitcoms – my Arrested Development period comes to mind here - on my laptop.

For several months, I lived in Studio City - right off Laurel Canyon south of Moorpark, if you’re familiar with the western fringes of the glorious San Fernando Valley. I chose to live there because a few other people from my new job rented there, and because the commute down the 101 wasn’t ridiculous.

Studio City is boring. Nothing happens there. I wasn’t within walking distance of anything, the Pacific Ocean was little more than a rumor, and I spent the majority of my “going out” time sitting in the In-N-Out drive thru on Ventura Blvd, at Poquito Mas – also on Ventura, where I once cursed out Jack Wagner for blocking the inexplicably tight parking lot – and at either Gelson’s or Von’s, the two supermarkets close to my apartment. Gelson’s has the best hot food and salad bars of any supermarket I’ve ever been to, by the way.

As an adjunct here, I'll just point out that I'm well aware that my time in LA would have been much more enjoyable if I'd lived somewhere like Santa Monica. I know this. I simply didn't give a shit at the time, so spare me the whole "You didn't see enough of LA to judge it" litany, because I've already been through it.

I stayed where I was because I had a terrific living situation. My landlord was the grandson of the guy who played Laverne’s father on Laverne and Shirley, and he charged me a ridiculously small amount of rent for a ridiculously large – and completely furnished, with terra cotta floors and granite countertops – two bedroom duplex with a patio and free parking. I was so lucky to find this place that I’ve probably shot my good luck load for the next decade or so. That’s how nice this arrangement was.

I worked flex hours the entire time because of the freeway traffic situation in LA. I’d either show up for work at six in the morning, or I’d sleep until nine, go to the gym, then waltz in at eleven and stay until seven or eight at night. I didn’t mind that at all. Of course, I work in a business now where people don’t exactly keep normal hours, but since I’ve pretty much been on someone else’s schedule for my entire life, the idea of working flex hours is something I’d be loathe to give up even for a raise.

I didn’t do much sightseeing in California. I went to the Getty, the Brady Bunch house was down the street from my apartment, I went to the Staples Center because I had press passes to a UFC fight, and I spent some time in Orange County – I also drove the length of the PCH at one point, from the end of Topanga Canyon Blvd all the way to...I guess it was Long Beach – but I don’t know what the deal was with my lack of interest in the place. I kind of wasn’t into it back then. I wasn’t into much of anything.

This is going to sound like the kind of dimestore depth-without-depth bullshit that I try to avoid, but I think you really need to take some time to reflect on things once in a while. I haven’t written jack shit about my time in LA in any medium – not here, not over email to anyone, and certainly not for publication. I think that’s because life, during that time, just kind of happened. I didn’t think about anything. I had nothing to do and didn’t particularly want to be there – but didn’t particularly want to be in New York, either – so I just went into this unfeeling mode where there were no highs and no lows. Just rote, automated repetition of the same routine, day after day after day.

I guess the obvious point here is that I haven’t thought about it much. I went there, I lived and worked, and then I came home. I didn’t get back that long ago, and I don’t even remember much about living there. It’s like the place made no impression at all, except for the clueless drivers and the disproportionate aggressiveness of people in LA’s supermarket checkout lines – which I suppose could be the subject of its own post entirely. Strangest fucking thing I think I’ve ever seen. Remind me to tell that story soon.

If you ask me about LA, there’s no emotional reaction I can give you, because I have no emotions connected to it. I’ll just shrug my shoulders and say something to the effect of, “Eh.” It’s like a place without a shadow – the most lightweight major city I’ve ever seen. And trust me, that’s not me badmouthing it. I can’t badmouth it, because I didn’t see enough of it, and the parts I saw made no imprint whatsoever. It’s not like going to Detroit, where you’re scared shitless to walk around and you kiss the tarmac when your return flight lands. It’s nothing like that. It’s not bad. It’s not good. It’s just pretty much of a big maybe.

Whatever. That’s the story of me moving to LA and coming back. Take it or leave it.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Apparently, I'm taking requests now. Thanks for reminding of this one, Josh, and thanks for the kind words. This one originally appeared in August 2005.

I'm an authority figure, whether you people like it or not. A stupid, pointless authority figure, in an embarrassingly meaningless job situated directly in the middle of a repulsive environment that contributes absolutely nothing to society, but an authority figure nonetheless. And like anyone in any position of authority, there are rules I've been entrusted to enforce, and I'm perpetually at risk of losing my job if I don't give due diligence to their administration.

Sitting in the airport bar last weekend, my flight delayed, I found, oddly enough, the inspiration for this post when a woman indignantly insisted she had the right to walk around the airport holding a full, open glass of scotch. Reasoning that she was, after all, a 'good' person -- as opposed to a 'bad' -- who obviously intended no malice in her proposed sojourn across the terminal, our inebriated potential passenger couldn't comprehend why she wasn't permitted to traipse out of the bar, into the airport proper, libation in hand.

"Excuse me, Miss?" called the bartender. "You can't leave the bar with that drink."

"Why not?"

"Because it's against the law."

"But I'm just going over there to check the flight board!"

The law is the law, and a bartender, of all people, isn't granted the authority to interpret the law based upon an individual customer's perceived intent. Neither am I, as a bouncer. Sure, some rules are downright silly, but I'm still required to enforce them, otherwise I'll quickly be out of a job, and, as I've said here repeatedly, I'm not going to do that for you. Yes, you appear to be a decent person. You're well dressed, well spoken and polite. In all likelihood, you're telling me the truth about your intentions, but please, do me a favor: Don't fucking ask. Don't ask me to trust you, to vouch for you, or to permit my employment situation to depend upon the veracity of your words in any way, shape or form.

"My girlfriend doesn't have her ID, but she's twenty five."

"She can't come in."

"Why not?"

"Because she needs to have a valid ID to come in."

"But she's twenty five!"

"Listen. The rule is, everyone needs ID to enter the club. She doesn't have ID, therefore she can't come in. Case closed."

"But she's twenty five!"

Yes, I know. The law doesn't apply to you, because, after all, you're you. It's okay to drive a car without a license if you intend to obey the posted speed limit. Then again, it's perfectly acceptable to get drunk and speed if you're in control of the car, right? Or to come into the club wearing a hat and sneakers because you "came all the way from the Bronx."

"I can't accept this ID. It's expired."

"But it's my ID!"

"Oh, in that case, come right in!"

Are you fucking stupid? I didn't mean that. Sarcasm and facetiousness are evidently lost in translation at the front door of nightclubs. No, an expired driver's license isn't going to get you admitted. I couldn't give a flying fuck if it's "really you," or if your "wallet was stolen yesterday." Rules are rules, and we've all got to abide by them. Even you, dear Guido. Honestly, do you think I really care whether you get in or not? If it were up to me, you could all just come right the fuck in, burn the place to the ground, strangle all the bartenders and steal their cash, and then go home. You think I have an emotional investment in the place? Please.

"Yo, could I come back in now?"

"No. You were in a fight, and you're out for tonight."

"But why can't I come back in?"

"Because the rule is if you get in a fight, you're out, no questions asked. You got into a fight, so you're gone."

"But I ain't gonna get in no mo' fights! Could I come back in?"

I intend to mount my soapbox for a bit here, using people's asinine behavior at the club as a metaphor for how I'm assuming they live their miserable little lives:

Guido, get your house in order. If you want to be honored in the way you're always demanding, to be looked at as a figure of colossal importance, you need to strive for a higher level of self-sufficiency. Get your shit together. Don't rely on the goodwill of others -- and especially not the kindness of strangers -- to get the things you need or want. You don't have a driver's license, right? Got warrants out? Take care of them. Had a DWI conviction? Forfeit your eight year old license and go get a valid New York State ID card. They only cost about ten bucks. Don't come up to me and ask me to stake my job on trusting your good intentions, especially when your deficiencies are so glaringly indicative of your status as a scumbag.

Where do you work, Guido? At the warehouse? Are you in a position of trust there? Do you handle cash? Can I come down to your job and start asking you for shit that could get you fired if your boss found out? Would you let me do that? No? You don't know me from a fuckin' hole in the wall? Exactly.

And do me a favor: Save the righteous indignation for someone who cares. Acting like you're mad at me when I won't immediately accommodate you is, at least for me, the most obvious tipoff that you're completely full of shit. I'm incredulous to believe that any responsible -- or irresponsible, for that matter -- adult could possibly be unaware that his driver's license has expired, but I'd be more inclined to buy your version of events if you could at least pretend you didn't know, as opposed to acting like I'm the asshole for doing my job the way my employers have instructed me to do it.

But, as everyone knows, the best defense is a good offense, and when it comes to Guidos, even the most innocuous request, when denied, has the potential, if not the likelihood, of leading to a sidewalk argument of epic proportions. Obviously, the louder they shout at me, the better their chances of getting me to acquiesce, or so, I suppose, they've been led to believe.

"Why, this is absurd! I want to speak to a manager!"

"He's going to tell you the same thing, ma'am," said the bartender. "It's against the law to leave the bar with your drink."

"Well, what do you think I'm going to do with it?!?"

Can I not read my fucking newspaper in peace?

"Holy crap, lady," I said, my irritation intensifying rapidly as the two argued over my shoulder. "You can't walk around the airport with an open glass of booze. Leave the damned drink here and we'll all sit and watch it 'til you get back."

"You people just lost a customer."

"Big loss," muttered the bartender.

"Rules are rules," I added. "Hey, man," I said to the bartender. "Do you ever read blogs?"

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

One Night

Something good happened in my life the week before last, so I decided to just start walking. I began in Midtown and proceeded south, down 7th Ave., cutting through the West Village until I found myself on Houston.

I still don’t know why I went this way, but I made a right on Elizabeth, walked south a few blocks, and ended up here.

I walked in, had a shot of whiskey, and ordered the $50 haircut and shave. This was the most I’d ever paid for a haircut, but I wanted to see what would happen and how it would turn out. I was very happy. I tipped the barber $20 and put myself on their mailing list. I resolved to pay better attention to both my grooming and mode of dress. I’ve kept that resolution for over a week. This is good.

I then continued south on Elizabeth and ended up here, drinking Newcastle and telling my life story to a bartender with an odd name who played good music – heavy on the Replacements - on an iPod and bought back every other round.

After that, I walked for a while and ended up here, where I drank dark beer, ate a liverwurst sandwich and cursed at a drunk guy who called me a tourist.

Finally, I ended up here, where I dumped $20 into the jukebox and played a mélange of Soundgarden songs that earned me more free beer.

Then I went home.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Back to the Future

This post was originally published on June 13, 2004. It was the first one I ever wrote, and I thought it would be interesting to republish it.

In my latest Kramdenesque employment scheme, I'm going to be a bouncer. Lest you scoff, I feel compelled to point out that I've done it before, many, many times. I did a lot of bouncing in college, and even more in the years that followed. I'm rather good at it, too.

The biggest problem with working security in a bar, when you first start out, is figuring out whom you can trust once something starts. I once worked the door in this quasi-club place -- essentially a big bar with a small dance floor -- that attracted a cityish, guidoish sort of crowd. One Wednesday night, the security staff consisted of me, Joe and Bob-O.

Joe, the de facto 'head bouncer' whose primary (and perhaps only) bouncer weapon was his booming, authoritative voice, was recovering from sciatic nerve surgery on his back, and was particularly useless that night. Bob-O, despite being an extremely nice guy, was simply a horrible bouncer. If something broke out, Bob would lurk around the fringes of the action without actually getting involved. Afterward, he'd tell us all about all the people he'd tossed out during the action, and we all knew it was complete, unadulterated horseshit.

That night, something did break out near the back door. I ran back and locked up one of the combatants from behind, while Joe, bad back and all, was engaged in a wrestling match with the other. I had my guy in an absolute vice grip, and was hauling him toward the back door so I could kick it open, push him out, and go help Joe. Bob-O, a good thirty seconds late, runs right past Joe, grabs the guy I've already subdued by the arm, and yells, "I got him!"

Thanks, Bob. Nice work.

There's another type of bouncer around whom you need to tread lightly: The guy who's obsessed with carrying out his duties to the letter, to the point of causing needless hostilities with customers. Dave, another otherwise terrific guy, was a case in point.

This bar had a really choice deal for the drunks on Saturday nights. At the very end of the night, they'd set out a greasy breakfast buffet, consisting of scrambled eggs, sausages and hash browns, served on plastic plates with plastic utensils. The only rule we enforced was that you couldn't leave the bar with a plate. This, obviously, was because management didn't want a parking lot full of garbage on Sunday morning.

Most of us enforced the breakfast rule loosely, because by 3:45 AM on Saturday night/Sunday morning, we simply didn't give a shit anymore. If I saw someone headed for the door with a plate, I'd say something, but that was where it ended. Dave, on the other hand, inexplicably made it his mission in life to make sure that NOT ONE SINGLE PLATE OR UTENSIL made it out of the bar. He'd use extreme force if necessary, often violently slapping plates out of people's drunken hands before they made it out the door, infuriating scads of intoxicated guidos whom Dave had placed in jeopardy of being late to their roadside appointments with the breathalyzer.

Ironically, Dave is now a physician.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Reading List

Here are the last few books I've read:

Spies of the Balkans - Alan Furst

The Tourist - Olen Steinhauer

The Game - Doug Glanville

Broom of the System
- David Foster Wallace (3rd time)

Emergency - Neil Strauss

The Game - Neil Strauss

Prince of Thieves
- Chuck Hogan

Devils in Exile
- Chuck Hogan

Neil Strauss is fucking cool. I'd read his grocery list on a plane. I think the entire point of the exercise is to come up with some shit like that and be cool like him.

Two posts in a row and I'm feeling guilty for a cop-out reading list entry. That's probably a good sign.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Someone asked me about inspiration today. Really, someone did. This isn’t one of those bullshit pieces of writing where the author poses some nonsensical hypothetical question that came out of his own head and tries to pass himself off as some guy people are always asking for crumbs of wisdom. This actually happened. I thought about ignoring it and coming up with some excuse for not giving a comprehensive answer, but it’s been running around my head for a few hours and I’m going to give this a try and see what happens.

This is highly relevant for me right now because I don’t have as many sources of inspiration as I once did. It’s very easy to write volumes about bouncing in nightclubs when you’re working as a nightclub bouncer multiple nights each week. You take a pad and pen to work, wait for something to happen, then write it down. Then, when you get home – or at some point soon after – you tell the story as best you can.

That’s inspiration. Now, line by line, it’s a different story. That’s where you have to take a long, hard look at what you’re writing about and decide which parts of it need to be “fleshed out” – sorry for using cheesy literary agent-speak here, but it fits – and which parts are better off left on the cutting room floor.

I didn’t start off as a professional writer. I could write in coherent, grammatically correct sentences, and I pretty much spelled every word right, but I didn’t know anything about this process, so I told stories in a very literal style. I started at the beginning, wrote down what happened, and finished things off with the coup de grace, which was usually some particularly cutting remark by one of my coworkers at the expense of some unfortunate prick who’d been thrown out of the club.

“Hey man, you’d better get home quick! They chain up the gate to the trailer park at three!”

And so on.

The archives of this blog go back a lot further than December 2005, but I took a lot of it “off the air” for various reasons. When I look at those original posts, they’re very different from the way I write now. They’re more succinct, for sure, but there’s an innocence to them that I think was lost when this site developed a following and people started critiquing everything I did.

This has been a terrific way to learn how to write – probably better than any college classroom I could’ve been sitting in for the years I was seriously going at it here. Among the people who’ve suggested ways I can improve my writing over the years have been college English professors, book editors from major publishing houses, literary agents, fellow magazine editors and writers – and yes, I can say “fellow” because that’s what I get paid to do now – and exceptional people from virtually all walks of life. The writing education I’ve received within the confines of my email inbox as been priceless.

Still, those initial posts have something I can’t really put my finger on. I suppose it is a form of innocence. Back then, I was just a schmuck with a shitty $100 a night side job who saw some funny stuff and wrote about it for the benefit of a few of my friends. The story – delivered in a group email to about five of my friends – that spawned this blog is a perfect example. It went something like this:

“Dude, they had these female dancers up on boxes last night, and I saw some dude whip his cock out and start stroking himself in front of one of them, but I didn’t throw him out because who the fuck would want to touch that?”

Back then, I always thought I had an advantage over people who simply went back and forth to mundane jobs, then came home and tried to conjure something up to write. What I was doing was real. I was in the middle of it. I was standing there with a piece of paper and a pen, at the damned club, surrounded by assholes, observing them and writing down shorthand notations I could take home and turn into stories that would make my friends laugh. That was some good shit, and that, still to this day, qualifies as the best form of inspiration I’ve ever had to write anything.

That’s not to say I’m not inspired now, because I still am. Getting paid to do this – and who the fuck ever thought that would happen back in early 2004 when I couldn’t even figure out how to set this site up? – inspires me plenty, especially when I have something interesting to do. There’s a purity to simply telling a story, though, and that’s something I’d lost for a while when I went through my trying-to-impress-everyone-with-my-dimestore-vocabulary phase. Go back far enough in the archives and you’ll come across that period. It’s not pretty, but I learned.

I learned that the best way to get your point across is usually in the fewest number of words possible. I learned which parts of a story to tell, and which to leave out. I learned that this knowledge – knowing the right angle to take – comes from somewhere in my head, and I learned that this is an instinct that develops through extensive reading. You have to write, but you also have to read. A ton.

So, inspiration. Where does it come from? Man, it fucking comes from everywhere. From everything and everyone around you. From what you did yesterday. From what you’re planning on doing tomorrow. From what you’re doing right now, at this very moment. You can take these things and find damned near anything inside of all of it to write about. The person that asked me that question today inspired me to sit down and write almost a thousand words on the subject simply by asking me the question. There’s always something there. Always. You just have to wait for it, but it’ll let you know it’s there. Every single time.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


I kind of miss the club business.

Yes, I just wrote that, and I do. I really miss it. I mean, it pretty much sucks with the noise and the assholes and the danger and the stabbing and the sexually transmitted diseases and the mob guys and the complete lack of consideration people have for their fellow human beings from eleven at night until five in the morning most nights, but I do sort of pine away, in a strange and compartmentalized way, for...well... the club life.

Everything about the job but the money and the camaraderie was a fucking joke, but to be perfectly honest with you, money and camaraderie are two pretty major selling points for me right about now. I made friends. I had shit to do. I was doing something. I was a respected member of a high-quality team of guys – respected because I’d proven myself in a variety of different ways over a period of years to a group that had proven itself to me.

And I miss that. Who wouldn’t?

I miss getting home at six in the morning with my two bagels – egg-onion, one with jalapeño cream cheese and the other with sun dried tomato – and my bottle of orange Gatorade and my New York Post. I miss reading the sports section in the Sunday Post while I ate my bagels, drank my Gatorade and watched SportsCenter by myself in my apartment. I miss driving home at 5:30 in the morning with nobody else on the road but the drunks and the cops – and the drunks were easy to avoid because it’d already be light out and I’d see them before they’d be a hassle.

I miss drinking coffee and eating donuts at the podium out front. I miss getting care packages at two in the morning from the guys who owned the Italian restaurant down the block. I miss running “game” on girls at the door – saying shit they couldn’t possibly understand, then searching their faces for some glimmer of recognition beyond the bullshit they’d spew to try to get in. Sometimes you’d see that in them. Most times you wouldn’t. With anyone. That was the sad part of the job – the collection of pointless humanity whose lives, already in the toilet, were seemingly dedicated to being there, hassling me, and not understanding a word that came out of my fucking mouth.

Most of all, and this will be the most hackneyed reason of all, I miss being part of a solid crew of guys I could both have fun with and depend on. I don’t have that anymore professionally. Not the way I had it back then. I miss Tits-On-A-Bull, The Mutant, The Nut Puncher, The Jew, The Champ, The Orange Guy, Johnny, Jimmy, JD and everyone else I shot the shit at the front door with every night. I made friends, and I kept them – night after night, week after week and year after year. You see the same faces in the same place for so long, you wonder where the fuck it went when it’s gone, you know?

I work at a desk now. When I walk in the front door – provided I even show up to my office – there’s nobody there to bust my balls for wearing a jacket with a hole under the arm or for fucking up the haircut I tried to give myself over the bathroom sink. I can’t approach them with that familiar we-all-get-the-joke ease, and I can’t, for the life of me, imagine what would happen if I tried.

Getting the fucking joke was a huge part of it, too. When you’re on a team like that, you all get the damned joke – and that’s all the whole thing is. A big fat fucking joke. But when you’re with a whole load of people who understand that – and around whom you don’t have to censor yourself and watch your fucking mouth all the time – it makes everything fun and gives you things to remember when you’re sitting at a computer screen in the middle of the night getting all wistful about a job you did nothing but complain about for the better part of nearly two decades, off and on.

Do what we do together, and do it for as many years as I did it with some of these guys, and see if you ever feel the need to temper your language. About anything. That’s priceless. I pity you if you’ve never had it.

Would I ever go back? No, not voluntarily, unless I was seriously strapped for cash and needed something immediately. That’s not me anymore, and I’m fine with just the memories. Same goes for a lot of things, like playing ball. I can’t play anymore, not like I used to, but once in a while – for whatever reason, just long enough to make me smile – it sings to me in my dreams and I’m 20 again and I’m down there and everyone else is up there watching, with my father in the bathroom after drinking the home stadium's kegs dry, and all that matters in the entire fucking world is just putting it on someone for all I’m worth. That dream comes and catches me when I fall and lets me know what I need to know.

It’s the same with bouncing, I suppose. You move on, taking the good with you, dropping the bad in the trash heap, and having days like today, where you get shit done, you nail down plans, you remember who and what you once were and the whole wide fucking world is once again wide open and right out in front of you.

That’s what memories are for.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


A man has only one escape from his old self: to see a different self in the mirror of some woman's eyes.

-- Clare Boothe Luce