Saturday, March 23, 2013

Vacancy

Lots of places like this in L.A. Can't tell if they went out of business 30 years ago or if they're still open.


 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Do the Math

In the movies, when somebody finds out they're dying, they start LIVING. They hang-glide. They run around naked on the grounds of stuffy country clubs. They kiss beautiful girls and sing songs of joy in pubs. Their death becomes a celebration of life, and as an audience we're supposed to share in the moment and feel empowered and alive and grateful for what we've got.

In real life, when you find out you're dying, there are tubes sticking out of you and they come by to take blood four times a day. They wake you, roll you over roughly and wipe the mess off you with a cheap towel every couple hours and they talk about maybe sending you home at some point and giving you your dignity back but it never happens. You die in a dirty bed with a head full of fear and regret.

But the movies are right. You don't need to take that shit.

One day in January 2008, when my pop was wasting away and losing his sanity at a hospice in Brooklyn, the sun came out without any warning and it warmed the city and we felt something like those people in the movies feel. There were three of us there with him that day: my sister, my dad's longtime companion, and me. And somehow we managed to roll his bed out into the nearby park without asking for permission, and we all sat together and told stories and he found an hour's worth of coherence and he breathed real outside air for the last time in his life. And for that hour it felt like he was alive again, not just a vacant husk of the man we all loved for so long. It was the only time we got him outside before he died a couple of weeks later, but it made a difference somehow. More than that, it had to be done.

If I told you you were dying right now, would you roll your bed outside and soak up the day and kiss the girl and sing your favorite song as loud as you could? Because make no mistake, you're dying. That knock at the door is closer than you think. And with your time running out, you cannot waste a single second doing a bunch of bullshit that you don't have to do. It should all be prime rib and water slides from here on out.

Do the math. Figure you're 40. If you're lucky, you got 40 more years left.
40 years
minus
13 years sleeping
minus
10 years working for some other asshole
minus
4 years on your way somewhere but not there yet
minus
4 years doing chores and taking care of people you love
minus
4 more years other miscellaneous crap your obligated to do and can't get out of
equals...
You are goddamn terminal. You are done. This is the final game of your season. When the clock runs out, you will not advance to the next round. You will shake hands and that'll be it.

So you need to put the fuckin' ball in the air and have some fun.

That means no more Bravo TV, no more Us Magazine, no more listening to mediocre songs all the way through when they pop up on the shuffle. How the hell did I end up with like 40 Wilco songs in my library? Skip.


Batting cages: good. Thin Lizzy: good. Cannonballs into swimming pools. Screaming Bowler's Choice. Frisbee. Making out. Barbecues. Wrasslin'. All good.

Go out and do whatever it is that makes you feel excellent. Be careful about the things that speed up the dying process. But do some of those too if it feels right.

Just be aware of the math, kids. No more Wilco.


Location:Los Angeles,United States

 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

By Request

 

pete's list of scary scales, themselves ranked in order of scariness, which rank

stuff that is potentially scary or dangerous, with an addendum suggesting

other scales that should be implemented:

1 - torino scale (asteroid impact danger/severity)

2 - ines (international nuclear event scale; radiation events)

3 - zay's numeric speed scale (meteor's relative motion to you as it burns up

in atmosphere. nota bene: if it doesn't appear to be moving, then it's coming

right at you)

4 - richter scale (earthquakes)

5 - fujita scale (tornadoes)

6 - saffir/simpson (hurricanes)

7 - terror alert scale (see tom ridge for details)

8 - mercalli scale (less popular, also earthquakes, but not their pure power,

rather their visible impact)

9 - CMAQ (air quality)

10 - beaufort scale (wind speed)

11 - the dee snowstorm scale (snowfall intensity)

12 - noaa space scales (radio blackout; geomagnetic storms; solar radiation)

appendix a, some other scales that should be invented, with suggested

scalability:

road rage quotient (color coded)

house egging probability (geographic overlay)

fart stank scale (1-5)

drunk scale (1-5)

insanity scale (let's go 1-10 on this for nuanced measurements)

postgame riot scale (also let's go 1-10 with one being women getting hair

pulled because they were wearing wrong jersey and ten being overturned,

burning cars and at least one fatality)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Lessons, Concessions and Resolutions 2013

I blog about as often as Kobe looks for the open man in crunch time. I mean to change that this year, but I meant to change it last year, too, and I ended up delivering a grand total of four crusty, crappy posts, with a total user enjoyment index of roughly 3.2. With another kid due in about ten days, and an average work week of 60 hours, I'm afraid that the days of six posts a week and staying up until 3 am just to throw some ol' horseshit onto the electro-grid are behind me forever. But man I miss the ol' blogging days of 2003-2006, when you woke up to see what goodies your pals had left for you the night before. And sure enough, there were some goodies.

Just because I don't got shit to say won't stop me from telling you what to do. So here are some simple tips that will make you a blue ribbon champion human in 2013. Some of 'em are things I do, some are things I wish I did, and some are things I'ma start doing very soon (probably not). Some are lessons I recently learned. Finally, there's some shit I'm just giving up on.

1. Start blogging again. Find something interesting to say and the time to say it. My domain name expired at the old site, so I'm cashing that shit in forever, but I've decided to post some of that archival stuff here. For now, I've just grabbed the monthly blog compilations, but I might put up some more stuff eventually. The problem is I built it all using crappy outdated blogging software, so almost every link and photo is now busted/gone. If you do go perusing, don't expect much clickability. It's like an old deli you used to go to, and you come back years later and all they've got on the shelves is an ancient box of stale cereal and some cat food. It is wild to look back at the early days of the bungle -- now almost a decade ago -- both to see what was happening in my world and how I was reacting to it. A lot of it makes me cringe but I'll leave it up there for now, and I'll take requests for old files/pages you want restored. Now everybody please get their blogs going again. Thank you.

2. Figure out what you really want to do with your professional life and start putting in some work towards making it happen. Be realistic about it. If you're 46, still waiting for your rock band to catch their big break, that shit is now officially a hobby. Enjoy it as such. And start working on another career. Because you're gonna need some money at some point. Maybe not a lot, but some.

3. Fist bump, high-five, hug, cheek-kiss and warmly greet everybody you know and like. Make some damn eye contact. Banter more aggressively with the people who work at the coffee shop. I've always secretly loved high-energy, insanely enthusiastic people who sink their teeth into whatever is happening at that moment without reservation or shame. I am kinda shy and embarrassed to be a part of it all. Not anymore, starting today. Let's DO this, people!

4. Embrace the shit that makes you happy, no matter how superficial and pointless it seems to others. For me, it is shiny new gadgets. I got an iPad mini and I love it so much I want to have it surgically attached to my hand. I know it's ultimately meaningless, but it brings me such stupid joy that I don't care. We got like 80 years on this earth if we're lucky -- so spend 'em with a smile on your face. Also, got a new camera. Anyone know how to convert AVCHD files into something Mac-friendly without losing any quality?

5. Drivers, if you find yourself in the wrong lane and you're about to miss an exit, go ahead and miss that exit. Get out at the next one. I may suck at driving but if I get in a wreck it won't be because I carelessly yanked my Prius across two lanes of traffic to save four minutes. Same thing goes for the way people compete over parking spaces out here. Fuck it, park another 80 feet from your destination. Get 20 seconds of mild exercise while you're at it.

6. When people piss you off, decide if it's really worth a BIG CONFRONTATION. If it is, go for it. If not, here's a simple way to get some cheap satisfaction: mutter some hilarious, hateful, sweary shit under your breath about the person as soon as your back is turned to them. Once you've left the room completely, feel free to toss in a few obscene gestures to top it off. It will reduce your blood to a gentle simmer and you'll feel like you actually WON.

7. Continue drinking cheap, domestic, pissy beers, despite being mocked for it. They'll keep you all nice and good.

8. Come to terms with the fact that the crew at the Chipotle on Ventura will never get your order right. Stop getting upset when they find new ways to screw it up every single time. Stop expecting good customer service in general. I'm afraid we need to accept the fact that until people get paid enough to give a shit, they probably won't. And the customer will suffer in the end. The sooner you stop fighting this, the happier you'll be.

9. Listen to the Mayor.

It doesn't even have to be some huge gesture of kindness involving tremendous personal sacrifice. Just don't be a dick. Don't try and rig the game. Don't cut in line. Don't say yes to things you should say no to. Dont make the obvious joke, especially when it's at someone's expense. Be decent.

10. Smack boards.

 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

There and Here

It's 77 degrees in New York City.

I'm getting frozen out of a pickup game in Sherman Oaks by a 40 year-old guy who takes one look at me and decides I'm too old to be the fifth man on his squad.

Andy Pettitte's progressing through the minor leagues.

My Prius needs a wash.

People are walking to the bar in the East Village and wondering if the good weather is here to stay.

I'm staring at the tops of the swaying palm trees and wondering if they ever fall down.

Jeremy Lin is healing.

I'm calling it a night early because I've got to drive.

Somebody's stepping in something that smells terrible. They scrape off their shoe; it still smells terrible. Somebody else steps in the scrapings later and it starts again.

I'm subscribing to a bunch of digital services to pretend I still have the same channels as you do.

Michael Kay will not shut the fuck up.

I'm tucking in my shirt almost every day.

Some guy is screaming and it keeps getting louder and more menacing and nobody wants to do anything about it.

I'm loading bags of groceries into my trunk.

An after-work gathering rolls on until 3:30 in the morning.

The sports bar turns into a karaoke bar at 10pm.
 

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Smile of a Schmuck

Two British men I cannot stand: Piers Morgan and Ricky Gervais. That's all.

Monday, February 6, 2012

In Your Face

It was first published in 1980. I found a paperback edition on a shelf in B. Dalton's around 1985.

If you read it today, it would probably seem as dated as a Dolph Schayes two-handed set shot. Even the title sounds ridiculous.

But The In-Your-Face Basketball Book changed my life when I read it, and I still consider it one of the 10 or 12 books that will stay with me forever.

It was a joyful exploration of streetball culture complete with essential playground terms, bios of schoolyard legends, and best of all, a travel guide to the best pickup spots across the land.

It stressed style and swagger over structure and fundamentals. It was sloppy and obnoxious and full of life.

It even contained a photo of the court I played on (6th Avenue and Houston Street, NYC).


For a 16 year-old kid who was struggling to figure out life and trying to find his game at the same time, it was thrilling. It was a call to action. It taught me that all a man needed in this world was a duffel bag in the trunk of his car, stuffed with his rock and his kicks.

It was everything good about Heaven is a Playground, The City Game, and The Basketball Diaries, mixed with the sense of freedom and romance of a great road novel.

My friends and I passed it around a few times, and somebody (not me) screwed up and lost it at some point. I never found another copy.  
 
But I never stopped wanting to do what the book told me I could do: toss my stuff in the car and head out looking for a game somewhere.

But I never got a car -- until this year, maybe a month before my 42nd birthday. Now, just about every weekend, I drive around L.A. alone, looking for a game, trying to find the perfect court.

I've played on about half a dozen so far, and the experience has been every bit as satisfying as I always hoped it'd be.

IN.

YOUR.

FACE.

I'm sure there's a newer way to say it, but I don't know if there's a better way.

Just ask Tim Hardaway.

Sounds about right.

EDIT: Reunited and it feels so good.