EVERYTHING.

Death & I have a fine relationship.  Not sure whether this is because we don’t have much of one or that we’re synched up, our menses of the heart on the quiet lunar tip.  People die, I’m gonna die, and that sucks mostly because I’m certain that I’m gonna come back as someone or something tragically less privileged and lucky, in a much, much shittier time.  A milk cow in North Dakota; a Giza Pyramid laborer/slave.  A peg-boy on a Viking ship.  It’s gonna suck.  But I won’t know the difference, as I don’t know what I was before I occupied Me.  People die and I’m sorry and I will die and some people will be sorry.  But the world will get on.  But sonuvabitch it’s been a whole week and I’m still misting (read: fully precipitating) daily to Tom Petty tracks. 

Alright.  One could argue that I did that before he died.  And one also may suggest that perhaps I shouldn’t have his catalogue loop-shuffling on my iPod in the week following his death because that’s a.) pedestrian and 2.) of course you’re gonna emote if you listen to the fresh dead, shithead.  I don’t know.  This one’s big and bad and beautiful.  It sucked when Prince died.  When Whitney Houston died, I took it weird, probably mostly because I was in need of something to take weird about.  A buddy of mine from High School (and beyond) died on September 29th from the Grim Reaper in Tom Ford skate shoes that is Oxy the Opioid Epidemic.  Albeit, that one is different, a different beast in the grief galaxy, but it is still death, and I can put it into a box: He/she stopped breathing.  Now run till you puke.  Keep your eyes on the ball, Dummy, your feet moving, don’t get scared, cause there ain’t nothin’ you can do.  But then Tom Petty died.  And, sure – all the Vitamin H, hi-balls, eight-balls, footballs & speedballs, so on and so forth, weakened his ticker, so yes: it’s not CRAZY.  But it fucked me right up – I wanted to hug a stranger (yuck), thank my parents for having me, have a billion drinks (that one I swiftly accomplished), adopt a little baby girl, cry a river in a river, hug my brother a real hug (I needed a hug or to be hugged, clearly), get on a plane - it’s been all of it with him gone.  His heart gave out and the simplest of certainties (aside from “free lunch?, fuck you.”) that is Death became bombastic and demonstrative, which is a fitting paradox from the Man who could condense Life into three chords and a one line refrain.   

Christmas, ’94.  ***Let me just first make clear that it is unanimously understood in my mind that I speak for a small, specific sector of one. The Sudanese child laborer is probably not riding around unemployed (that wasn’t meant to be a joke) on her/his fixed gear bike living by Tom Petty refrains, nor is the poor, pregnant teen-aged girl running across Louisiana state lines (although it all applies somehow, and I think that will be my point?) to get an abortion.  I understand that my socio-economic place here affords me the luxury to sulk in or celebrate my oscillating existentialism.  Read: I am a Wuss.   Now SHUT UP.

Christmas, ’94.  The Old Man got me Wildflowers on compact disc.  The video for “You Don’t Know How it Feels” had probably come out between the record’s release and Christmas, and as his last top 40 hit, it was all over the radio as well.  In the canon of Petty tracks, this tune hovers somewhere near the 75th percentile for me, as he wrote so many perfect songs, you couldn’t help but take them and him for granted, maybe even shrugging it off into the background as an artist “staying in his lane” or some such confused, jealous bullshit.  “In his lane”…of writing perfect fucking songs you fucking shit kickers?!?  Wilt Chamberlain shot 73% from the field back in ’72-’73.  Sam Bradford competed 72% of his passes last year for the Vikings.  Single season records for the NBA, NFL (I would run the metrics on peak Serena Williams’ Annual Aces : Career Aces, but with Slams and smaller tournaments, doubles w/ Venus, et al -  there’s only so much fake math I can do in a wholly subjective non-argument).  73% & 72% are amazing numbers for a single season.  The best.  But imagine them doing that…for an entire fourteen and a half year career (I’m comparing studio albums to seasons, Mojo & Hypnotic Eye…and Mudcrutch’s 2, notwithstanding, ½ season for Willbury’s records).  Fuck it – I’ll go as far as to say TP’s at 83%.  83% perfect!  ***Obviously I have to half that to 41.5% because writing a perfect song is close to impossible and Wilt Chamberlain was the biggest person in the world and as a quarterback, someone’s calling the plays and you need a bitchin’ offensive line to even stay even – I mean, it’s Sam fucking Bradford who holds the record.  And, also: I’m not a complete shithead – I dock 50% off of the 41.5% as a nostalgia via grief tax so 20.75% perfect in the studio is still fucking second to none and that’s before I even assume that we can all agree on a 4.25%  rebate re: contextual emotion or sequence or sequence of emotions within the record from which the song lives, so at 300 songs (give or take), 25% perfect = 75 PERFECT MOTHERFUCKING SONGS.  He’s no Picasso or Jim Brown; he’s no Beyoncè, Paul Molitor or Mozart; Nora Ephron, Lindsay Vonn, Muhammad Ali or Bill Shakespere.  He’s Tom Fucking Petty.  The greatest athlete of all time.  

So I guess that would mean “You Don’t Know How It Feels” is right around perfect.  (It’s fucking perfect of course it’s fucking perfect.)  For weeks, maybe months, I couldn’t get past that song – and it’s the second track on the record (I did get lost in “Time to Move On” & “You Wreck Me” – “I’ll be the boy in the corduroy pants” making me smile every time, for reasons I still don’t know, but that was as far as I could get before clicking back to track two).  And I couldn’t get past “You Don’t Know How It Feels” not because I loved it, but because I didn’t understand it.  Dookie had come out earlier that year, and, being an aspiring idiot drummer, Trè Cool was Iverson, Barry Sanders and Gail Devers…he was flashy and fast, he was busy and smooth and he got your fucking attention.  That was the point – if you could do it, do it – bigger, faster, louder.  And song two on Wildflowers comes in (on A.I.’s pregame mix-tape at Georgetown) with that crescendo’d electric organ note and, ANNNND…kick-kick snare // kick-kick snare // kick-kick snare // kick-kick snare.  I didn’t get it. 

So I listened again.  And again.  And again. 

(Kick-kick snare // kick-kick snare.) 

You don’t know how it feels…

“Yeah, I get it.

(kick-kick snare)

no, you don’t know how it feels…

“yeah, no – I heard you.”

(kick-kick snare)

…to be meeeeeee-e-eee.

“Wait, what?”

And my brains fell out of my head.  The simplest drumbeat coupled with the simplest lyric were also…the greatest drum beat and the GREATEST LYRIC?!?!  “Am I Gay?” I thought? then asked “What the fuck does that have to do with this?”  then “It doesn’t, you idiot – that’s my point!”  So I listened again.

The space.  That’s what I didn’t understand at the time.  There’s so much beautiful fucking space in that song everybody should just always shut up.  It is peerless taste and tact and style and if you watch the video - one carousel-like shot, the Man perfectly uncomfortable (he looks fucking amazing in that thin blue hoodie and that fucking hat), shooting tranquilo-nervous glances off camera, as if in his bones he could truly take it or leave it but always opting for the former…in that moment, in that song, that take, time and space: There went the coolest person we’ll ever see.

Sure – maybe the lyric is obvious.  But nobody else could ever pull that off with a wink and a wry smile to skewer your heart.  I see a lot of comments on the general picture socials that read: “This is EVERYTHING”, and I don’t know what it means (I kinda know what it means).  But I don’t because how can that be EVERYTHING when Tom Petty wrote a few lines on each of those 14 ½ records that actually were.  “You don’t know how it feels to be me.”  You don’t.  And vice versa.  And thank fucking God.

Wildflowers was released maybe two years after I threw rotten tomatoes at Jay Rozman and Paul Furlong.  I didn’t act alone, but I will go deservedly to hell for that and I DON’T want anyone to try and stop me.  I didn’t know how it felt to be them and I apparently didn’t give a shit.  But I do.  That song didn’t turn me into the Empathizer by any stretch of the imagination – I still fucked up plenty and continue to.  But the song came at a time when I started to realize that this shit matters.  And not just how people perceived me, but how they felt devoid of my self-serving/sabotaging existence.  Who knows if he wrote the lyric as an omnipotent meaning to EVERYTHING but I look at him in that video and I know that he did because I can see that that doesn’t matter.  That we don’t have to always understand or be understood and sometimes we just have to shut the fuck up.  And listen to the space.

Realistically, I’ll probably come back as some deep, DEEP sea creature – but one of the ones that’s scared all the time.  Forever prey.  There’s been some hiccups, sure.  I could argue that I am hiccupping currently, wondering if it’s a diaphragm malady I didn’t address when I was younger and now it’s old and just Me.  Perhaps.  However, Christmas ’94, I was eleven and I was this incarnation and knowing that, knowing that I got to live with this record and this Man, at this moment, I can feed you the answer on How it Feels to be Me:  It feels pretty fucking good.  

 

 

 

REMing Lena

Lena Dunham has made me a better Man.  Because she made me a better Woman.  Namely, in the way that I had a sex dream about her the other night following those three nearly flawless episodes of GIRLS (“American Bitch”, “Painful Evacuation” & “Gummies”).  If you told me five years ago that I’d be REMing L.D. in my childhood bed after she pulled off the trifecta in two season six eps, I’dve said “Yeah, RIIIght.  A.) I’ll be sleeping in my own house in a future bed but I’ll hardly be sleeping because I’ll have just adopted that black baby I’ve been talking about, and b.) No way that entitled twit-nit gets six seasons.”  But.  I’m not and I didn’t.  And she isn’t and she did.  For that I am grateful.  I love Lena Dunham and we are lucky AF to have her.

“…made me a better Woman” was not an effort in hyperbole to garner wry smiles or showcase my half-baked feminism.  “Better Woman” and “getting older” or “earning air” are synonymous in this machine (of me) because, by and large, dudes don’t have the capacity to sustainably fuse the peckeral and cranial attraction like dames do.  I’ve always envied that in the opposite sex (yes, yes – grow up, Thompson, it is 2017, there are no opposites, we are all on a fragmented spool of muddled neo-linear choose-your-own sexuality (you chose wrong, none is right) sexes like the time/space/communication construct in Arrival), the innate alliance between brain and loin.  Not to say that that relationship in the male body is adversarial – deflategates in articles of annoyance run amok in the synapses of this machine.  But, again, by and large (as I by and large like to speak in by and larges in here in an effort to offend the tens of tens who click), the sexual male’s vetting process is unduly archaic, an embarrassing relic of bullshit braggadocio that led us to this fuck-faced death-fork in America.  I’ve never once gotten political and I ain’t gonna start now.  I’m just saying that my nearly six-year relationship with Lena Dunham culminated in a strange and beautiful REMing and I woke up terrified yet reassured: There will never be another male President of the United States.  I woke up evolved.

***Listen: I dislike women nearly almost as much as I dislike dudes.  Most dudes make me look good, which is nice, but everyone is mostly terrible, their requirements for with whom to partner off shameful or conniving, on a sliding scale of soullessness.  What’s the use, Arrival, etc., etc.

I’ve secretly aligned myself with Lena Dunham, but, like, totally acknowledge that I’m Gerry and the Pacemakers here, with none of the rivaled early successes, and Gerry and the Pacemakers without their early successes is like…exactly: we can’t even have forgotten about them because they never were.  But in the early stages, the content (LD’s and mine, not Gerry and the Pacemakers’) was swaddled in shock: I said “jizz” a lot, she was taking sex dumps in millennial BK caricature, we both loved being shirtless.  I love/hated her in the way that I love/hated Conor Oberst’s early Bright Eyes cannon – her bratty, self-serving callousness to the world around her, her town crier self-loathing, Oberst’s indulgent sanctimonious anguish, his manic depressive grappling with sincerity: This was my shit, Man.  It was a show I watched alone, as I only listened to “Lifted or The Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground” at night on a DiscMan, walking home from class.  To watch her whine and jiggle with other viewers, to listen to that affected quarble in a car with people – I would have had to have my eye-rolls artificially flavored, manufactured and packaged at the ready instead of seeing what my organic garden of masochism would grow.  It was plenty irritating (viewing) alone – in the first season after Hannah says “No one could ever hate me as much as I hate myself, okay? So any mean thing someone is going to think of to say about me, I’ve already said to me, about me, probably in the last half hour,” I almost tried to call one of those Hollywood attorneys on the bus benches for telepathic copyright infringement.  I’m guessing those guys got a lot of almost calls that day from many-a-sad-sack in Shit City.

There is a tired bit here to mine; the ebbs and flows of a relationship with a show – liken it to any relationship that’s worth fighting for for those intangible reasons, yadayadyada.  Out of the gates, in those first few seasons, I dug her balls and her brains.  I respected what she was doing, because I really had no choice.  And once or twice an episode, she would get me.  She would usually peeve me leagues more than she would hit me beneath the sternum or between the ears, my eye-roll migraines always in the bullpen.  But I stuck around because I knew she was good for me.  I respected her.

And then, in three words, I eternally love(d) her.  “I’m tryin’, Brother,” she says to Elijah (in “Gummies” – ep. 5, season 6) after he says…it doesn’t fucking matter what he said, or what made her say it – if the words came from the fingers of writer Sarah Heyward or just spilled from L.D.’s mouth while the camera was still on.  In those words and in that delivery, she indiscriminately crash-landed in the peat bog of empathy, a place she’d been ardently dodging, flipping the bird at in those early seasons when she’d always opt for the lake of fire, the place where my respect for her was borne.

“I’m tryin’, Brother.”  And she was suddenly beautiful.  Yeah, sure, I’m a fuckin’ asshole, “she’s always been beautiful” and so on and so forth.  But it is subjective, and dudes are awful, our Venn diagram sweet-spot of Loin-Brain-Heart is, as stated earlier, oft times Jurassic.  “I’m tryin’, Brother.”  She was, she is, and she won’t stop.  And it is exhausting, no matter the budget.  So I went to bed and had sex with her.

In this season, she’s displaying her Vet skill set in full force (“They gotta be able to cure a lizard, a chicken, a pig, a frog - all on the same day.”).  Luckily, the episode following the flawless three was kinda garbage, which was quite a relief.  And a few have been forgettable.  But fuck me - I’m not a telly critic and I don’t feel like talking about the specifics (although, the “American Bitch” ep is where I would point anyone who questions her brilliance as a writer and where she became my favorite feminist in her refusal to let “feminism” be hard-lined).  In “Gummies” and “Painful Evacuation”, though, in twenty some-odd minutes, back-to-back episodes, she pulled off the trifecta: Made my sorry ass Laugh, Cringe, and Cry…repeat.  All I ever wanted.

I’m not gonna miss the show - she’ll be bettering me by besting me till I die.  What was once a half-chagrined respect has evolved into a lionized admiration and adoration, a nocturnal REMing, and the gateway to becoming the Woman I need to be.  Because, fuckin A: I’m tryin’, Sister.     

Weather of the Brain

At the risk of sounding hackneyed, at the terror of sounding like one of Those People, I must openly admit that, while it didn’t necessarily change me, Burning Man 2016 will be a landmark event in my life.  I understand myself, what’s gotten me here and what is happening at present better than I did prior.

There is a moment when you become the You you’re gonna know for the rest of your life.  It comes in different forms, at different ages – I’m sure Barry Obama’s came at a point of righteous conviction in his late teens.  Ideal.  Less ideal was my own, as it came in 1998 on a rollicking acid come-down through the eyes of my friend who would die three years later.  Since that moment, I wish I could say the growth and self-discovery yield in the sixteen years to follow was a never-ending harvest of spirit fruits, but that’d be a lie.  It’s just as overwhelmingly impossible to put a finger on right now as it was that night in my Mom’s basement.  Hell, I can’t even point it out, much less touch it.  It’s light speed and inert, Tim Leary and the HR team, watercress and infanticide – it doesn’t matter, everything does.  But let’s check back in at the end and see how it feels.  It’s probably just the weather of the brain.

The evening was poorly planned, as most are at fifteen.  You don’t have the foresight or the means to plan a trip to Big Sur or some yadayada hot springs – it’s January in Vermont: you go to your High School’s basketball game thinking you can poison the system from the inside out.  Get in the belly of the enemy and spray your rad perspective atmosphere into the conformist machine that – “wait, what the fuck are we doing here?!?!”  I looked over at my friend Andrew (the soon-to-be Moment vehicle), many non-tripping bodies away, who between deep bullfrog breaths was mouthing “Bounce.  Bounce.  Bounce.”  So we bounced – the two of us and our Canadian friend.  The events leading up to my Moment are banal – staring at a cheeseburger from Al’s French Fries, opting for a Camel Wide over my first vegetarian genuflect; sitting, freezing in a car listening to “Pinkerton”.  Then time’s up, Mom said to be home and she is so, so very scary. 

But not that night.  Probably because we were three sheets to Venus with black eyes, dolls’ eyes and she was thankful we weren’t at a High School function where we could be seen.  And we shoveled the driveway, so it was a win-weird for her.  There was probably hot chocolate and we watched “The Truman Show” and ate cereal, my brain digging this marriage of my personal counterculture and Home, having never considered the union.  I love my Mom for a lot of things, but that night stands out. 

And that was what made the Moment that much more impactful.  Against all odds, we had had a nice experience that evening.  We didn’t navigate tactfully, but we landed safe and smooth.  And there we were, in the basement of my childhood home, three of us, riffing; tangents, non-sequiturs, diatribes and silence, circle back to the inside joke from all those eons ago when we put the Lysergic Acid Diethylamide on our green tongues.  In one of those silent pockets, something, everything was building in my silly little brain.  From zero to Light Years, and I knew, till it all went nothing, there’d never be an answer.  I looked at my hands and my arms and the intersecting lines of grout on the cinderblock walls and I didn’t know why.  I didn’t know Why.  And I broke.

Luckily, one of the three of us was Canadian, so he didn’t fully understand…anything.  It was the sound of his laughing that pulled me back into the basement.  I looked up from my hands where there was enough unself-conscious cosmic worry water to worry Jim Holt, the Canadian’s laughing at me and I looked at Andrew and that’s when I became the me I can’t return.

Did his death later augment the moment?  Maybe, maybe not.  But his eyes that night, that Moment, pleaded with the helpless ache for empathy.  He wanted the password or the gate-code to wherever it was I had just been before the Cannuck laughed at me back to Earth.  But it was also the last thing he wanted.  He wanted it to be mine.   From that Moment, that was who I was to him, who I am.  And this all became newly accessible thanks to Burning Man, 2016.

Wait.  To be clear – I did not go to Burning Man.  I bought a ticket in haste, thinking it was the right move (for all the wrong reasons).  I was hungover and I’m a little not well these days, and I figured I need to start doing things that I don’t normally do.  Chicken salad, on rye, untoasted, and a cup o’ tea kinda shit.  But I quickly realized mid panic-attack that Burning Man was not what I needed in order to rewire my mainframe.  So I posted my ticket on Craigslist and some knucklehead was at the door in thirteen minutes.  But I still needed to spook myself out of my Game Shorts, so to speak.  So I shoved a ton of psilocybin into my motherboard at 6am and hiked the Ray Miller trail. 

Let me first start by amending my previous mushroom experience, which I documented somewhere back there, and the gist was that “we were happy to be me” – by and large glad this was who got chosen to be put inside this vessel.  This time, not so much.  I wasn’t bummed, but it was more akin to the front office of the Maker saying “we can’t tell you where you went in the draft, but…well, you weren’t picked last.”  Whatta you gonna do?  That was the general mantra. 

It was a scary day.  I think I ate the bones, if you know what I mean.  I don’t.  But it was a trip, and psychedelic experiences are just a condensed decade or a shot of lifetime; there are waves of terror and paralytic overwhelm that you have to sit with and weather.  And it passes.  And you laugh.  And you love again.  And then you wanna throttle Whomever it is, splash lye in their face and demand the Why?  But you’re still here, see?  Yeah.  It makes you feel it All, but urges you to leave with the moments where you wanna wash and kiss Whomever’s Whatever and thank them and can I please just buy you a beer because I gotta say, I quite admire your work.  You prick.

I unexpectedly ran into the Moment up there.  And it made clear why I didn’t go to Burning Man, made clear what I’ve been doing and perhaps what I need to do.  And by made clear, I mean I pointed out the reminder.  I wish my Moment arrived my first year in Law School or in a garage somewhere in what would become Silicon Valley – I one-hundred percent do.  But it didn’t.  I don’t know what Burning Man is (I do), and I can’t look down my nose at something that I don’t get (I will, I am).   Fact is, I am terribly allergic to Kool-Aid.  I love drugs as much as the next shithead, I just don’t like them laced in such decadence and people.  I didn’t go to Burning Man because it seems like a lot of work to get to a place where a bunch of folks were gonna try and convince me of happy.  Because I still have a ton of work to do down here, where I’m still okay being un.  At some point I will accept and give in to the Light side.  I’m just not ready.  As my Man said: Sadness is my Luxury.  There is nothing unique about this confusion, nothing heavier in my weight.  But I have to validate my Moment.  I’ll make my dead friend proud or die trying.  Also, I bet there was a bunch of fucking EDM there.

 

 

 

Excuse Me While I Break My Own Dick Tonight...

I was having a great day. Then I broke my Dick. 

You can hide behind the comedy of it all; when the threat of life-long Dick damage rears its newborn head, a flight of broken Cock jokes is suddenly at the ready, the staff at the Emergency Room taken aback by the sunny-dark disposition from the guy with the eggplant colored bullfrog between his legs. There are jokes and there’s a pretty good story, and hell – at one point it seemed like my broken Johnson was bringing people together. But when, two days later, you finally press the little phone icon next to her name and the phone starts ringing and you accept the words that are going to come out of your mouth in the ensuing minutes – “Mom...I fractured my Johnson and had to have surgery. On my Johnson.” I thought I was a Child. Until I broke my Pecker and had to tell my Mom. 

So, yes – it can happen. Not becoming a Man, but fracturing your Penis. Becoming a Man can happen, I suppose, but I’m less clear on how - for me, sadly, it came as a packaged deal, a deal I don’t recommend taking. But it’s my Deal. And I wouldn’t trade it even if I could. 

I suppose some backstory is necessary before we get into what a snapped Joint can existentially unearth in a Man. I was having intercourse. And I really was having a great day – one of the best I can remember. And all I’ll say about the Woman upon whom I broke my Dick is that there is no other Woman in the World I’d rather break my Dick on. I feel lucky that it was Her. 

So. Intercourse. And don’t let “snapped Pecker” mislead you – we weren’t Log Jamming here. Just two grown people lost in the beautifully blinded exploration of one another’s topography, digging the possibilities, and what initially seemed a traditional slip n’ spike (felt it once, felt it a million)...well. T’was not. I went from seeing stars to seeing stars. Two very different constellations separated by a fraction of a second, a hasty shift of my hips, an errant, clumsy prod, and, to be honest, a Boner of righteous density. Hold the FUCK on. What I’m saying here is that I’m typically a malleable, 75-83 percenter – a C+/B- guy on a good day. And that’s working with a pretty undersized unit – a mediocre player in a subpar conference playing a sport people stopped caring about in the late Aughts. If you sensed that I was beating my chest, I wasn’t. But, Man – what a Boner it was. 

Till it Broke. In hindsight, I had absolutely no business brandishing an erection of such density. I’m a ’98 Subaru Outback Legacy guy and somebody handed me the keys to a fucking Tesla. And I’m pretending like I know how to operate that interface? Please. The only blame I’ll assign is the Boner Density Blame – that was Her fault. 

“I’m gonna need a minute,” is what I kindof remember saying. But I was blind and Her voice sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher’s, so I can’t really nail down any hard facts here. That is until I went into the bathroom and took a gander at what quickly turned into the opening scene in “Tree of Life”. It was Everything. It was Nothing. It was what Is and what will Be and what always Was and it’s just not up to Me. Stifling a shriek that would make a "Middle of Nowhere" era Hanson crowd sound tame, I went to the freezer and grabbed a bag of frozen blueberries and had a lay- down. There’s nothing worse than a Dude feigning a junk injury. I mean, snapping your Pecker is worse than anything, ever, but you know what I mean – I imagine I looked pretty clichéd. 

Mind a million miles, I knew that I was destined for the Emergency Room, so I took the Woman home, playing it as cool as I could, the sing-song regret of the uninsured, broken Dicked fuck-up boorish in my head. Once alone, I pulled over and did some broke Dick Googling, as one will. I thought “Maybe we sleep on it...maybe tomorrow’ll...the pecker’s resilient, right?” So I took another look-see inside my drawers and thus drove pretty fucking fast to the hospital. 

I joke around about the lonely times, the “darkness” a single guy in his thirties faces: in the security line at Dulles, coked up in his undies at a Hampton Inn in Atlanta, running, driving, ordering something, waking up...but it’s all really a smile and it is in fact the bed I made in which I more often than not am happy to sleep in. But when the words “surgically repair the penis” penetrate the self-depreciative din and it’s just You in a hospital bed...just You and your fractured Freddie Mercury. That part of you that you scolded, laughed at, laughed with, from the first time you clip- zipped Him into your footsie jammies to jamming him into Laura Jordan’s leg during “Stairway” to stumbling upon your first orgasm, together, forever, to getting a point blank shot from some WASP midfielder to having nightmares of being seen in school on a bad day and “How did we forget PANTS?!?” to his scream-shot in a Vaseline jumpsuit during that Jewel video (there was a rowboat?) to reintroducing yourself on LSD – “Man, we never talk. You’re funny,” to go from ashamed to almost proud and back again with a residency, to forgetting Him for months at a time, to actually uttering the words “Maybe it’d be easier if you just weren’t here” to realizing that neither of you has really changed since the summer before 8th grade and that now, in our 32nd year, this is what it takes to finally say the words: “I’m Sorry. And I Love You.” Because I am. And I Do. 

It’s a bummer. I’ve got 30 stitches in my Johnson. Tomorrow I’m gonna take the bandage off, see the damage done, feel bad for myself for a stretch, make it a well earned reason to drink, and carry the fuck on. But I have this. I have this life and this body and in a thirty-two year quest for self-respect, I might have found a fragment. I think I got a taste. I mean, it’s not lost on me: my Pecker’s gonna be FUCKED up, Haggler-Hearns style. But I feel grateful, and I’m not just saying that. I’m saying it because I went for a walk the day after Dick surgery with my Cock swaddled like the saddest little Pharaoh on Earth and “Wild Horses” played through my earphones and it was as if I was hearing the song for the first time. I sat down, felt the ache of my surgically fixed Dick, cried, and fell completely, unabashedly in Love with Life. 

John Hiatt is Not Snap-Chatting.

John Hiatt is not Snap-Chatting.  I didn’t need to drive to Tucson to know that.  I knew that from here.  But I did need to drive to Tucson to see him play a solo acoustic show because that’s what you do when you’re worried it’s all going to shit.  When you’re scared the good’s gone, everybody’s on RAYA, that that one reliable purity of sadness just ends in apathy - that everything ends in apathy -, that it’s all moving in a blind, drunk direction of tech-savvy, ADD addled dip-shittery.  When the unequivocally timeless last passage of “Underworld” gets neglected, dated in a card catalogue.  When the whole goddamned point becomes so hollow that it threatens to fold in on itself, devouring you ass to mouth like a Ouroboros black-hole.  When you’re underemployed and maybe you fucked up for one many too many times…well, that’s when you drive to Tucson to see a John Hiatt show.  Duh. 

No, John Hiatt is most certainly not Snap-Chatting.  And you’re not listening to enough John Hiatt.  Nor should you be, necessarily.  I’m not here to look down my nose at how people choose to consume or occupy their time here.  If all the good parts got their due, there’d be no super hero movies and I could afford to live in Bushwick, and where’s the fun in that?  “Ars longa vita brevis” somebody once told me in an email.  It’s not like Bernie was ever gonna win, shitheads.

There’s so much going on, and I really have no clue – and that’s not the affectation of the grumpy, the misanthrope’s safety net.  I want to know.  Some Norwegian kid named Kygo (Kygo is most certainly Snap-Chatting) has accrued over seven hundred billion hits or plays across the various platforms (the Spotifys, the Soundclouds).  That means that I had to have clicked on a Kygo click, give or take, 100 times, and I’m pretty sure I never clicked on a Kygo click (there’s 7 billion people in the world?!?  Stop having kids, you Ninnies!).  And good for him!  Take dead aim at the rich boys, Kygo!  All I’m saying is that I don’t get it.  Read those not-even-THAT-made-up numbers again.  700,000,000,000.  Sidenote/afternote: Kygo’s first studio album is due out in May.  Of 2016.  So, Kygo (I’m gonna keep calling him “Kygo”) has had everybody on earth listen to one of his songs 100 times (okay, maybe some people don’t have the internet, so some kids have listened to his songs 200, 300 times…and I’m certain both my Mom and Dad have never listened to a Kygo song, so there are another 200 hits unaccounted for.  I haven’t either.  300.  My third grade teacher, Miss Havricka…she may have listened 25 times, so another 75…this is a b-word – I can’t run the fucking metrics right now!).  Seven-hundred billion listens from less than twenty tracks, most of which are just motherfucking re-mixes.   Other people’s songs souped up on the same machine he jerks-off with.  Honest, I’m not trying to be crass, I’m just saying: You’re not listening to enough John Hiatt.

This isn’t a history lesson on J-Hi here.  It’s not a tongue-in-cheek retrograde fuck-off to prove that I’ve been doing my semi-obscure under-the-radar-crime troubadourial homework.  I just want to talk about something other than myself for a second and how it’s been affecting me.  John Hiatt’s been making me feel.  So here are three John Hiatt songs that make me feel.  Really feel.

 

REAL FINE LOVE (Stolen Moments, 1990) 

No song in the history of songs has been able to contain all the contradictions quite like this one.  And somehow, he captures it in the opening drop-D lick.  “Me against the World, let me smother the earth in kisses.”  That’s not the lyric, but that’s how the sound feels.  “It doesn’t matter if I still think I’m better than everyone with no proof.  I wanna run up that Mountain and through these wall studs I’m tired take everything I have.  Baby Girl.”  It’s all right there in that lick.

I thought I had a line on somethin’, baby, no one else could say

They couldn’t find it in their hearts to just get outta my way

But outta nowhere and from nothin’, you came into my life

I’ve seen an angel or two before, but I’ve never asked one to be my wife… 

 

Hope can drive a man insane.  And hope in rock n’ roll, well, tread lightly or next thing you know you’re clad in Chris Martin’s day-glo patch pants singing with Beyoncè at the half-time…shit – maybe hope is the answer.  Nah.  But there is a hope with which J-Hi sings that’s rooted in the loamy dim of knowing.  And the wash of cool cadence with which he punctuates even his self-deprecative lyrics (see: those first two lines above), mark that of a Man who’s never said “Well, I wanna kill myself” for a laugh.  Hope is okay.  But never act like you’re better than the knucklehead you’ve been.

 

You’ve got a real fine love…

You’ve got a real fine love…

One I am unworthy of…

You’ve got a real fine love, Baby…

 

1:3.  1:3…1:3?  1:3!!!  That’s it!  (Sorry, I just figured this out on the fly, and, it being a b-word…)  That’s all it is.  One part self-effacing, three parts resilient.  You gotta be shitting me.  I had the recipe backwards this whole cock-sucking time.

John Hiatt digs Women.  Not like, like, Blake Shelton or T-Pain digs women.  J-Hi knows, as a Man, that there’s nothing better than tapping into the strength in vulnerability.  Because there’s nothing more freeing or arresting, more fun or fuckednothing more more than being at the love and mercy of a Dame.  J-Hi never leans on the martyr meter (alright, maybe sometimes, but he’s a fucking songwriter), and he knows when he’s lucky to feel again.  Because maybe the other shoe jumped over the moon, but that thing could drop-n-kick you tomorrow while you’re swimming in the bi-polarity of the mystified tides of...fuck.  I don’t know: 

Maybe it’s just a little thing, the way I feel tonight:

A little joy, a little peace and a whole lotta light…    

This is all objective sonic and lyrical assessment – as close to facts as I can get.  Also, at 3:40 of this tune, he lets out a scream that translates to (to the best of my knowledge): ‘Just shut up, Thompson.  It’s pretty fuckin’ great.’

 

Buffalo River Home (Perfectly Good Guitar, 1993)

Before he played this tune in Tucson, he peeled off an anecdote about the summer of love (’67) and how many hits of acid he and his knucklehead buddies ate in the Indiana sticks.  I guess that was the entirety of the story (they ate a lot), but he followed it with an assessment of his brain: “I used to say, after that summer, my brain was runnin’ on, you know, 80/20 – 80 percent brain to swiss cheese.  20 percent swiss cheese…holes.”  Then he tuned a few strings.  “Then it got to, you know, 70/30.”  Tuned the other few.  “60/40.”  Grabbed a capo.  “Now, probably 50/50.”  Looked out at the crowd, at me, started the song…“40/60.” 

Obviously, I was giggling at the story.  His delivery made me want to hang out (with him) mostly because I’m crazy enough to think that he stole the bit from me (we both get the steady laugh --> cricket decrescendo).  But when I contextualized that bit and song pairing, when I connected the dots between the two and me in the speckled blotter of time, it made vaguely clear the question I’ve never been able to answer and always ask: What the fuck have I done?

Let it be known that this tune (and more so the record cover of “Perfectly Good Guitar” – J-Hi in the tall grass, 40 years old, baggy khaki shirt unbuttoned, shades, guitar under a casual arm) bled uncool to me when I was growing up.  It seemed (to my idiot self) the whitest shit in the world – and I was listening to Lyle Lovett and Traci Chapman, for shitssake.  It was the unbuttoned shirt.  And I didn’t like the phrase “Buffalo River Home” for whatever bratty fuck-head reason.  But I’m glad, in a sense, because at the suicidal age of thirty-suckit, this song and I have had a nice dalliance in understanding absolutely nothing about ourselves.  And being kinda cool with it.

I’ve been takin’ off and landing, but this airport’s closed…

How much thicker this fog is gonna get, God only knows…

My Man doesn’t strike me as the kinda guy who ever had a Plan B.  And, as a guy who would suck dick for a Plan B right now (ea-sy – I didn’t say “suck dick AS a Plan B”), I can tell you…nothing.  I can tell you to listen to this song.  And I can say that there is a special place in my heart for “Oh My Sweet Carolina”’s self-serious reflection and confrontation of the lonely desperation we encounter out there, wherever you are, Kid, when you’re in your mid/latter 20’s.  But you get older and it gets tired dressing the lonely in serious.

To get sad at the sad – that’s where you run into trouble.  Believe you me.  Or Believe Me me.  What makes this song perfect is that, sonically, it bops a sunny-day shuffle groove behind the lyrical sentiment of “Everything led to here.  And here is pretty fucking similar to back there, you elder-Sot.” 

I been circling the wagons down at time square…

Tryin’ to fill up this hole in my soul, but nothin’ fits there…

But the music lacks even an iota of self-pity.  It’s not like it’s trying to cancel out the desperation or break even in sentiment.  Simply: Why kick yourself while you’re down?  I can’t help but picture the Scarecrow heel-clicking down the Yellow-Brick Road – “I would not just be a nuffin’ with my head all full of stuffin’, my heart all fulla pain // I would dance and be merry, life would be a ding-a-derry…if I only had a brain.”  (That hits way too close to home.  I regret making that connection.)

Just when you think you can let it rip,

 you’re pounding the pavement in your Daddy’s wing-tips…

as if you had someplace else to go, or a better way to get there…

As odd as it sounds, (with the above exception) I’m not huge on regret.  The only times I regret are the times I have allowed myself to think that good things were gonna happen (there He is).  The benefit of growing up is the past, and the past is just a pile of forked roads and a billion beers.  Should you have gotten a job-job?  For sure.  Is it gonna work out?  Probably not.  Does it matter?  A little.  Am I happy?  Pass.  Am I a more attentive lover and do I marvel at a cold Heineken every now and again?  Physically, probably not but hopefully.  Spiritually, I really think so.  And, yes – I do

The answers to questions don’t matter: this is where you were gonna be the whole time.  Just don’t get cocky because the comedown is a cunt.

 

Before I Go (Crossing Muddy Waters, 2000)

This tune may actually have more to do with me than I had hoped at the onset – but, I mean, as completely objective and forthright in my journalistic merit as I have been, let’s allow some leniency here.

I graduated high school in 2001, and that spring was asked to speak at a ceremony (not the ceremony – some sort of tented picnic thing.  Somebody probably had a feeling I’d be a fledgling fuck-wad screenwriter someday) to garner a few yuks from the graduating class.  For whatever reason (the psychedelic sentimental is my best guess – but when is it ever not the psychedelic sentimental?), I opted out of giving a speech that would make the faculty blanche and decided to play this tune.  I’m an adequately crap guitar player and I know I think I have a better voice than I do because it’s not very good and I think it’s decent.  So I had to have been pretty spun to take option .) Sing a John Hiatt Song.  I wasn’t such a shithead, I guess.

Before I Go.  He counts the song in, boot-stomp strums the verse phrase for ten seconds, cue the mandolin, repeat the phrase, and by the twenty second mark if you haven’t completely given yourself over to the song, well, Partner, I wish you all the best.  Sincerely. 

I’ve been sleepin’ for some hours / just woke up and you were there…

Like the morning, like the flowers / sunlight whisperin’ in my ears…

 Oh, right – and then he starts singing.  It’s gospel, it’s country, it’s blues, it’s rock n’ roll…it’s J-Hi.  He sings about Love in a way that makes you wanna line up the Brothers Doobie and penalty kick them each in the giblets. 

Psychedelic isn’t “His hands and feet are Mangos,” and I’m guessing that’s what I had discovered back in 2001.  There is no more psychedelic music than post “Bring the Family” Hiatt.  Reflecting, accepting and questioning, wagging a laughing finger at the eternally unknowable.  Put it all in a blender before it rots and drink it down.  Therapy is for the birds because it’s all right there – but let the birds be.  Be wary of love until you’re not – be everything till you’re not.  And you can be alone, Man…but you’re not alone.   “Hope is okay.”  Did I say that?  Switchboard Susan, all you are is Hope.  Hope and some science.

I will try, I will stumble, I will fly – He told me so…

Proud & High or Low & Humble – many miles before I go…

Many Miles Before I Go.

John Hiatt walked out onto the stage in Tucson, blazer baggy and jean-fit relaxed as the day is long.  He was 1:3 – 3 parts humble, 1 part grumpy.  The crowd was median aged 61, Tommy Bahama clad.  We didn’t meet, J-Hi and I, but I know what he would have said had we stolen a moment – “You drove from L.A. to see this show?”  And I would have shrugged: “Life would be a ding-a-derry…as if I had someplace else to go or a better way to get there…”

Off of My Head

Somewhere around 1988, my Mom took me to a Hair Cuts 4 Less in Shelburne, Vermont.   She sat reading a Cosmo and I bellied up to the vanity to get my lid cropped.  Brandy or Candy or Mandy who smelled like Hi-Vals and old “New Car Scent” asked me how I would like said lid cropped.   So I says, or so says my Mom I said, “I want it back.  Real back.”  Brandy was confused.  “Whatta you mean, Honey?”  Reasonable question.  “I want it…like my Dad.  I want it…off my head.” 

For those of you who don’t know – my Father is a bald man.  Wildly bald.  “Off my head…”  I know, I know – the cutest of the super cute, right?  Super duper cute.  But, let’s just, for a second, say I did have a time machine.  What I’d do is I’d dial up the date back to ’88, march into that shit salon and grab Daddy’s Little Dick Juggler by the neck, press a pair of shears to his tracheal artery and say “Look at me you sentimental little twat.  LOOK AT ME!!  If I had had my druthers, I would have brought back a rat scrotum skin cap from the future because that’s what those guys are working on in China – I don’t know the ins and outs, but it grows hair.  Fact.  I think.  LOOK AT ME!  I would scalp you right here, with these rusty shears and stitch that rat scrotum skin cap on on my own because, probably, in twenty-five years it will have healed pretty fine and who gives a fuck how it healed?!?  It’ll be covered with lustrous brown locks sprouted from a guinea pig rat scrotum skin cap and you won’t see the fucking hack job I’m about to do had I brought the rat scrotum skin cap.  Could it have gone terribly wrong?  One hundred percent.  But it’s Desperation:45, Linus, and we’re on follicular suicide watch.  LOOK AT ME!  Look in my eyes.  Not in them, you delicate little Ninny, at them.  Look at the whites – I mean the soggy yellows.  Well, that’s because I drink a lot.  That’s because I’m bummed.  That’s because my hair’s falling out.  I gotta get back.  There’s a Woman in the future present who’s probably already gone.  Yeah, you sensitive Nancy: because I’m gonna be a bald guy.”

Gonna be.  I’ve got a year.  Maybe three.  Fuck.  It’s so gut wrenchingly pathetic to go through a more than common bodily transformation and make it the bane of your existence.  To let it consume you in all of your vain hypocrisy.  We all have our shit- insecurities that slowly, quickly magnify as we age.  But, in our defense (the Thinning Lizzies), it’s the worst thing that can happen to a person.  I mean, next to…nope – actually, the worst.  My sister went through a near fatal bout with Anorexia, and I have to say, that doesn’t hold a candle to what I’ve gone through.

There are stages.  “Well, I’ve always had a big forehead,” and you’re suddenly digging up 3rd grade school pictures and shit.  But it’s hair there on your idiot young self and not…here, on your idiot now self. 

Then it’s “Smoking thins my hair in the winter” or “That’s just because – remember when I smashed my head Freshmen year on the corner of the desk, belly full of Popov and Tang?  Totally should have gotten stitches.  That’s that scar.”  You hit the side of your head, though, Dummy.  Not the high right corner of your lately terrified widow’s peak. 

Soon you’re canvassing Whole Foods and Amazon for anything – yucca root hibiscus gels, pumpkin seed oil, saw palmetto, Klondike bars, chicken shit, apples.  Anything but the Juice.  Never the Juice.  Scrambles your Dick, gives you breast milk spurts when you’re around children and foot corns on your taint.  Makes yourself hate yourself worse than before.  Never the Juice.  It’s unnatural.  Need I say more? 

“Well, I heard B. Coop’s on the juice…”

So, naturally, you start researching the Juice.  Let’s just get to the bad part…

You’re not researching the juice because you’re actually gonna go on the Juice, but quite the opposite.  Until, logically, you start to consider going on the Juice.  But before that you’re so preoccupied with not going on the Juice – snorting green tea extract, apple cider vinegar enemas, going up the stairs backwards, jerking off and not jerking off simultaneously – you’re laughing at the Juice, trolling the internet for horror stories and screaming at Propecia or Finasteride proponents like a rabid Pro Life Evangelist or Kramer boycotting Kenny Rogers’ chicken. 

“But, I heard Matty Mac’s on the juice.  He didn’t look like he had milk spurts in ‘Mud’”.

And then everybody’s on the Juice…

Justin Theroux started juicing at just the right time, right? – perfect recede.  Olyphant, JJ Reddick, that guy at the Houston airport, Conor Oberst.  Krasinski?  Please.  Him and Emily Blunt trying to have sex is like trying to shove a raw oyster into a parking meter.  But look at that hair!!  Fuck sex.  Fuck my Dick.  Fuck Dicks.  Nobody even likes Dicks anymore.  I wonder how to get in touch with Theroux…

My eyes would go (do go, every time, but chronologically, it’s better for the piece) to a Man’s hairline like it’s a fucking baby oiled bosom.  I wonder when he was at my stage…I wonder if he drinks Diet Coke a lot… his head’s small…I got the shit combo – huge fucking head from Mom’s side, social life crippling hair gene from the Old Man.  I’m gonna look like fucking Peter Boyle in a year and a half.

 All of the shit: the relentless comparisons, the number crunching, the tears of dread, the tears of shame for the tears of dread, the tears of shame for the tears of shame…the obsession.  It’s Built to Spill…and then there you are.  Sitting in your car, sweating dicks on Burton Way and Robertson – you’re not even worth music or a cracked window, you soulless sell-out mock-tragedy – and you’re staring at a bag of hair assisters that cost, well…”soulless sell-out” hurt enough.  I don’t need to kick old younger me when he was down.  Because he looked at the pill.  And he took it.  And when it hit his belly, he thought back to that day at Hair Cuts 4 Less and wondered what the hell happened.  The Kid just wanted it off his head.  You fobbed off all his other wants over the years.  Why couldn’t you just let it get off his head?  Just let the motherfucker have it off his head!  Well, now that six-year-old boy is NEVER gonna give you a boner.  Prick.

I would like to say I stuck my finger down my throat and wretched up my anti-pride.  But the reality is that I took the pill for five days and my dick inverted and my face got weird and I started lactating, so I gave the rest to my actor friend.  He has amazing hair.  And then I’ve juiced my wig with Rogaine intermittently since, when I felt like I wasn’t successful enough to go bald.  But all that got me was a rashie eye-lid and a shit-fire scalp.  So now.  Now we’re gonna see what’s supposed to happen.  What the world’s got in store.

We’re getting older.  A friend of mine recently tried reassuring me, insisting that everybody has their corporeal pressure point, the attribute that Father Time has hand picked to try and strangle their show.  This friend is a near physically flawless member of Women.  So I want to kick her goddamned teeth in for saying that.  However, she made another point: “You’re not giving people enough credit.”

Probably not.  And there in lies the rub.  Fact is, I’m only in it for the empathy.  And I think that rings true for the majority of us - that’s what this mortal shit-storm boils down to.  However you go about it, at the end of the day, you want to have a sandwich or order a drink and find some connection.  And that’s the fear of a Man who everyday sees more of his head: am I losing my connection?  Is it harder to empathize with a bald guy?   

It’s the sad, sorry truth that these questions plague us (I’m speaking for me and, like, a few other guys…or just mostly me).  Yeah, I’m fucking vain.  It sucks.  I’m desperately awaiting just a flicker of acceptance that has yet to come.  The moment when I make peace with it.  It’s gotta be close, Man.  I can almost see it.  Almost.  But for now I spend my time surveying my hairline’s defeated retreat to its depressed demise.  It’s funny, too (read: “tragedy”) – when I was twenty-seven, I could feel thirty encroaching, unabated to the snap-count of my career schemes, so I made sure that I surrounded myself with friends who were over thirty.  Now I only wanna be friends with Dudes who are bald(er than me).  Dudes who know the struggle.  Men who shake hands with glazed eyes averted and a limp grip of contempt on those who flaunt their suspicious hairlines and bountiful quaffs.  Men whose only advice to the youth is “Don’t lose your hair, Kid” as they order another pint.  You think Native Americans are angry?  Get a barroom full of Thinners and Blank Pates and I’ll show you a people of scorn.  We will have endless muted loops of “Curb” on the corner television, listen to BTS and REM (but strictly “Automatic for the People” and later), start a Jordan Spieth fan club and a “Fuck LeBron” Fuck Club.  Get each other’s backs like we’re in the fucking first infantry, only speaking to Women when spoken to, growing beards and buying rounds, never to hark back on the Lost Days of Locks…And we will all huddle together, united, as one, scrambling like lemmings to the cliffs of our Vanity.     

Oddly enough, my Dick’s never worked better.  Go figure.

Coach.

I told my Sister & Scott that I’d write something. 

Let’s think. Let me fuck-ing think...Los Angeles, writing, sadness, drinking, Lucinda Williams, Friday Night Lights, drinking, running, Felicity, detached intercourse, aloof, sadness, madness, Friday Night Lights, running, let downs, fuck everybody, movie, drinki....got it. 

Okay. Let’s go back from whence we came, and if we’re gonna do that, let’s go sad because I don’t know about you, but I can’t laugh without the aftertaste of tears. So in 2009 my girlfriend at the time cheated on me with Moby. Fuck, that’s not sad it’s just funny and it’s not entirely true either. But it reads so well. So she cheated on me with Moby or split a lentil soup with him in Prague. Something about either - his lack of any discernible talent musically (don’t throw stones, Thompson) or the mealy texture of the old world soup – something made her realize that the Dude she was living with back across the pond (Me) was a bummer supreme. He was. I am/was. Was.

So, as an act of kindness, she provided me with a valid if vapid reason to go darrrrk. And dark I did go. Luckily, I was coaching a 7th and 8th grade Boys Lacrosse team at the time – a terrifyingly healthy combination. Having played lacrosse through College, I can say that no team in the history of lacrosse (be it high school or college) – or sports for that matter – has ever run as much as the 2009 Brentwood 7th & 8th grade boys lacrosse team. I had enough money to live on a steady diet of eggs and bananas and Bohemias and Seagrams 7. So I chose to run. And because I was fairly certain I was on the fast track to becoming a manic depressive sociopath, I ran every sprint with the team so as to make sure the human body could survive whatever it was my mind decided to test it with. 

Kids were shitting tears and crying blood. But nothing can bring a group of people together like utter misery. And at that time, I needed friends who weren’t my friends, Man. I needed somebody to believe in me – to help me believe what I kept saying: that you have to sift through the darkness to absorb any kind of light. And I remember the morning I woke up from the night I got as sad as I’ll ever be. And that morning, I was bummed about it. I had reached the top of the bottom and I knew I’d never get that back. But I quickly shook that bummer – because you dip more than a toe into that black hole and Good Night, Irene –, bounced some stolen and soon-to- be lost script ideas off of Jerry, and went up to practice, knowing what needed to be done. 

My love for Friday Night Lights is too vast and intense to try and explain in this medium. Well, maybe next week. What I will say is that I moved to Los Angeles to try and write because of that show. So fuck that show, actually. Anyway, after my last collegiate lacrosse game, I swore I’d never touch another lacrosse stick for as long as I lived. But Coach Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler) inspired me to be a Molder of Men. That and upon my arrival in Southern California, I immediately came to the harsh realization that my skillset – well the one that could stimulate income – was stunted: I could paint houses and teach lacrosse. And I suppose give a decent Jerk-Job, but coaching the sport that provided daily anxiety and dread in my late teens and early 20’s seemed preferable to handling another man’s penis. 

So I was Coach Taylor meets Robert Shaw from Jaws meets Ryan Gosling in Half Nelson meets Charlize Theron in Monster meets Paul Giamatti in Sideways meets my Mom (I just shuddered). The kids even gave me a Dillon Panthers Hat (this was before seasons 4 & 5) and the school gave me a restraining order but we’ll get to that in a bit. I really like Friday Night Lights. 

That day (the day I realized suicide was off the table because if I didn’t do it the night prior, sadly, I was in the clear), I went up to practice knowing what I needed to do for the fellas: I was gonna make the rest of their lives easier. I don’t even think we suited up. Running shoes. One of the kids pulled me aside and said “Coach...” - and we referred to our 30-45 minutes of daily conditioning as “going to the darkness” – “I don’t think we should...the guys aren’t...and we have a game in a few...maybe it’s too early...I just...do we have to go to the darkness?” I looked at the kid and said “Buddy. Where we’re going...well, we’re going to nothing.” He was wary, but hopeful. So I cut the Tim Leary laced act and said: “We’re going to a place where the Darkness is preferable. We’re going to a place where we get to laugh at the Darkness for the rest of our goddamned lives.” He started crying and we got on the line. I was in a Way. 

And we ran. Hills, stairs, track, field, water, repeat. And repeat. And repeat. We cried. All of Us. One kid went blind for twenty minutes. This husky Black kid, Kamaal (I think), stripped down to his Rudds (compression shorts), just crying and running and trying to get close to the earth and clutching and giggling at me between sprints like I was his goddamned ayahuasca Shaman. 

But we got through it. And I guarantee you that every day after that afternoon we learned to laugh at the darkness, physically, for those twenty-some-odd 11-13 year- olds, every day became easier. 

From the beginning of the season, I knew that these kids weren’t gonna put in the work outside of practice to be able to hang, skill-wise, with the best team in our division. And if we weren’t gonna beat them with lacrosse dexterity and acumen, well, goddamnit, I would turn these little fuckers into misfit Machine Monkeys and we would run through over or around even ourselves until the final buzzer. Three times we played the best team in the league – Harvard Westlake. First time they mopped us. Second time, they beat us by three. Final time, by a last second goal. And fuck-my-buttcheeks, whatta you know but a few weeks later we find ourselves staring down a week of Championship Game preparation to square off against those rich, entitled pieces of...wait. I coached at Brentwood. My guys were grubby rich. Good kids, though. 

Championship Week. And let me back track by making clear that I wasn’t our Athletic Director’s favorite coach. Sturdy limb and I’ll say I ended up being her least favorite person in Los Angeles or the greater Los Angeles area. She was (is...hopefully she’s not dead) a lesbian. Not that that has anything to do with her disliking me – I was an insubordinate shithead – but it’s just a fact that Lesbians, as a people, are angrier than regular people. (Thank God only Scott and Mare read this shit.) 

I was in a hot bath on wafer thin ice with said Athletic Director because I had a running dialogue going with all the parents from the team, in electric form. An email chain, if you will. And, it was no secret that I was another sad sack trying to make a living writing for the screen in this dipshit town, and there were some heavy industry hitters (I just flicked myself in the balls for writing that) in this community of parents. So, like a green ass-rabbit, I tried to flex my prose in the thread, and in my defense, I more often than not, kinda killed. But, obviously, I got cocky and there’s always gonna be that one parent who forwards the email to the powers that be. I think the parent was Asian. Lost in comedic translation. Or I was actually a sociopath. Tomato, jizz. 

Wafer thin bath-time and five days removed from the Championship game, I’m down at my day job, trapped in a spray booth spraying a black staircase to nowhere, crying and sing-screaming “Visions of Johanna” or “Sooner or Later (One of Us Must Know)” and my phone buzzes. The coach of the Brentwood High School Varsity team sends me a text. COCKS. Back story here: this guy who is now coaching the Varsity team, him and I were co-coaches the previous year on the 7th & 8th grade team. He had lofty goals to take over the program – which was fine by me: At any moment I was about to sell a dark, highly unmarketable script for a big bag of money and my fuckin’ worries were over – take over the program, you two-bit Jizz Clown, because this time next year My Man (me...I’ve been My Man for a while now) would be living on mushroom tea and cocaine hush puppies, shitting out million dollar scripts four times a year from up in Topanga Canyon while you’re setting up cones probably stealing my cheer which I stole from Friday Night Lights. Way Back story: when we were coaching together, on the first meet and greet night with the parents, he introduced himself, saying “My name is Cock Jockey Frederickson and I played at such-and-such Prep School and then played four years at University of Delaware.” (Only the bolds should be in quotes, but I’m no journalist.) His name is Brian. I hope he gets raped tonight. As a human who suffered through four years of Division I athletics (albeit on a mediocre team in a sub-par Conference...which makes it even harder because an unsuccessful college coach will make you eat pecker stew if he thinks you’ll shit out a W), it was my responsibility to say something. Because Brian, that cunt weasel, played Club Lacrosse. So I introduced myself and “...well, before we go any further, I just want to be clear: Brian played club.” So that made for a healthy coaching atmosphere. 

So the phone buzzes. Brian – who is quite close with the Athletic Director, mind you (obvi – that’s what all manic depressive sociopaths think: the Dykes and the Dicks are all conspiring against me) - he says something to the effect of:
No more conditioning. I had a deep fried Laosian pecker sandwich for lunch today and all I’ve done for 30 years is give my Old Man ample reason to regret. And something about formations that we should be running. 

I wrote back: Thanks, Bro. If you wanna come help at practice, cool. But don’t tell me how to coach my team, you spineless faggot

Back to sob-singing: “Little Boy lost / takes himself so ser-ious-ly / He brags of his misery, he likes to live dangerously...” 

Buzz. Seriously. The guys are in good enough shape. I have a dull mind and became a bad person somewhere back there but I’ll never know when so this isn’t even really me thinking that? Stop writing my texts. And stop running the kids. I had semen vinagrette on my salad today. 

***side note – the Varsity team didn’t make the playoffs, so their season was over, hence his sudden interest in my misfit Monkey Machines. 

Me: Dude. Just a thought: maybe if your team had been in better shape, you’d still be playing. Now bugger off. I can’t imagine you have a friend, because it would bum me out that two people could come together to create somebody that would like you. Your parents are an anomaly. You were created, and that’s a drag, but for somebody to be made and eventually like you, that would be heartbreak for a Man, heartbreaking for Mankind. 

My phone rings a few minutes later – the AD: “Colin. This is _______________ - yes, that one: if Rugby and The Bride of Chucky conceived and gave birth at bizarro Lilith Fair where Slipknot headlined. Yesterday was your last day at Brentwood. Don’t come or you’ll be arrested.” 

“Well, this is fucked up,” my Brain said. Soon thereafter, mayhem ensues. Parents calling me, calling the AD. Kids marching into the AD’s office demanding answers. Next day I have kids calling me in tears wondering what the fuck’s going on and the only answers they got from the AD or ShitLips McGee is “Coach Thompson lied. That’s all you need to know.” And the shitty thing about that answer was that it wasn’t wrong: I lie like a motherfucker and have for the better part of 27 years or whatthefuckever but that’s none of their business, because it certainly didn’t pertain to this situation. I was a great coach and a terrible employee, so everybody can jump in the fucking lake: We’re in the motherfucking Championship Game. Well, turns out there’s a lot of red tape when it comes to the 1% and their private school waitlist. So as cool as the parents and I were – we were friends, Man! I was 27 and single and had a dog and strife and VT plates! – rich people love Dudes like me (then Me). But that didn’t mean they were gonna ruffle any feathers or draw any attention when they were so close to their kids attending one of the more prestigious high schools in ...who cares. In short: I was alone and I was fucked. 

My Guys continue to call me. Making me promise that I’ll be at the game. Telling me that they asked Coach Club if they could get some conditioning in at the end of practice and he snapped at them, saying they were in fine shape. If I saw that gutless gut maggot right now I would tear that fucker’s Johnson off and make a Johnson Salad sandwich with it – on Russian Rye – and make him eat every goddamned bite. The AD and Dick Brisket promised me that there would be security there to escort me off campus (the game was away, at Harvard Westlake). When life gives you pickles, though, you smoke a Parliament light and think on it. I decided to go to the game. 

The Fellas were ecstatic. Jerry and I camped out on the opposite sideline, holding a Duke, only there to support. At half-time, it was all tied up. And with each team gathered at their respective ends of the field, I see a gaggle of Fathers marching directly across the midfield toward me. I immediately thought “I think I might have thought I was a different person this whole time. My whole life.” But it was all Bro- Hugs and “Dude – my hands were tied...it’s fucked up”’s. Fred Durst of the Indigo Girls loved seeing that from across the field. 

Second half starts, and I get a tap on my shoulder. I turn around and this schlubby Security Guard is literally trembling – and Fuck!, for all he knows, Jerry’s a fucking registered sex offender and I’m wearing woman skins on my back like fucking Buffalo Bill. “Dude,” I say, “I’m leaving. But please don’t look so nervous. You’re a 45-year-old Man. If this is about the Juice I stole from Whole Foods...”. The Fathers protested (a little late, fellas), and I went on my way. And let it be known, once I was outta sight from the field, in the parking lot with my dog and my Subaru, I heard the game go to shit and as I pulled out, we were a quick three goals in the hole. And they ended up losing by 7. Listen...I’m not saying I’m a great Coach (which I actually am). I’m just saying: That was my fucking Team. 

Flash Forward three years. I’m coaching a High School team in the Valley. And we suck. Frankly, I didn’t like the kids as much. So maybe I’m not a great coach. Or maybe the drive to the Valley sucked the remainder of my swiss cheese soul or I just wasn’t sad enough. Whatever it was, we go to Brentwood to play my Moldings. We get off the bus and we’re walking onto the field and I’m swarmed by my Monkeys who have become Young Men and they’re telling tales of the darkness and it felt great. On the playing field is a Middle School game between my new school and Brentwood. And, whatta you know, Cunt-Wrap Supreme got demoted back to the middle school level. So I’m watching him be terrible at everything and I rack the focus on my eyes because it’s still early and these Ray-Bans are dirty because that’s not who I think it is coaching along side him – my Brain is so weird to me sometimes. So I pull aside one of my Moldings, but I already knew the answer. “What’s Peter Berg doing on the sideline?” The kid looks down at his feet, because he knows exactly what’s going on. “He, ummm...his kid’s on the team and he helps out when he can.” I nod. “Coach, you okay?” I nod. And I laugh. And I keep laughing. Because you know why? Peter Berg created Friday Night Lights. 

Don’t say anything, Thompson. But you’re going to. Aren’t you. “Yup.” 

So the middle school game ends and I get our guys going and jog over to Berg, who’s walking off the field.
“Hey, Man. How you doin’?”
“Good, good. What’s up?” Super wary. 

“Oh, nothin’. Hey, I actually used to Coach your team.”
“No shit.”
“Yeah. And Fuck Nuggets got me fired.”
“Brian? I think I heard about you. Dude...I’m sorry. I don’t—“
“No, no – it’s fine. It’s just funny: I moved to Los Angeles because of Friday Night Lights. That’s why I’m here. That’s why I’m trying. And I coached the team that your son is now on that you’re helping out with, so you and I...see: I shook the played “the world is fucking me” shoulder chipped mantra. But now I see. Now I finally see: it’s not 
fucking me. It’s just trying to get rid of me. But it doesn’t understand that I’ve seen nothing. And I laugh at the darkness. I gotta coach a Lacrosse game.” 

And that was it. 

And It was that moment that the seed sprouted and I didn’t even know it yet, but there was a change in the tide, and that’s what led us to making a movie (the first one which led to the second one). Because if you harvest enough darkness and spite and strip away the self-pity – go a la carte with that shit - you can turn it into a feature film that not a lot of people are gonna see and maybe, just maybe, you’ll get to scare the shit outta Peter Berg in broad daylight. 

All fuckery aside, I got a call from one of my Moldings the other night, which is why I told this story. I ignored the call, obviously, but the kid left a message and it was from a group of them, now Freshmen in College on Winter Break – they were probably drunk on their parents ’89 Silver Oak – but they were reminiscing about those days, about that day, about Jerry and the Subaru and Clear Eyes and Full Hearts and I sat back and fucking wept because I don’t know what I’m doing or what’s gonna happen and it’s still as terrifying as ever but if part of the goal is to leave a mark, to affect some lives for the better, to make a story and a smile even if it’s borne out of heartache...if you can teach a kid to laugh at the Darkness...well, then you did good.

Adult Spin.

I ate mushrooms the other day. It was awesome. I’m not gonna go about this in an analytical, intellectually persuasive essay format because I’m just not smart enough to make a physiological/psychological case for psychedelics. And I’m too lazy to do the research. This is a fucking b-word – I’m just gonna try to not sound stupid in explaining why adults should take mushrooms every so often. 

Adults should take mushrooms every so often. First reason being, you should probably revisit something you only did when the fear of going home to your Mom or Dad’s house (or both, but people whose folks stayed together in high school need much more psychotherapy than a belly full of fungus can provide) overrode any secrets the psilocybin was willing to share and then you’re just staring in the rearview of your buddy’s ’89 Corolla trying to figure out how to make your novelty shop eyes look half-normal and it’s 6 degrees out there so let’s just listen to Pinkerton again in the post office parking lot. 

Other reasons? The first one was actually all you need. But. We’re here. 

The entirety of my 20’s – and I’m 110% certain I’m not alone here – I fell victim to a trendy condition of self-loathing. And that conditioning became conditioned because it was such a forced, self-manufactured manifestation of hatred – I didn’t really hate myself. It just became my knee-jerk line at a bar: “I hate myself” got me out of a jam. It got a few laughs and another beer, but I really like drinking, and you say something enough times to your dimwitted self, that jerk-off’s gonna start to believe it. 

Let’s take two steps back and be perfectly clear about one thing: I tolerate myself. I think I’m fine. There’s nobody in here sucking me off, compiling a backlog of superblessed, happytobeme hashtags for the dark times. These days, nine out of ten days my “You’re not the worst!” voice uses a megaphone and I can send some emails to nowhere, go for a run and maybe meet up with a friend to occupy my time between beds. Anybody who broadcasts that their life is great or loving yourself is the first step to shut the fuck up, you can suck my dick. They’re so obliviously sad, it bums me out. But I don’t wanna talk about them and I’m done talking about the tenth day because this is about psilocybin making all that shit moot. If only for an afternoon. 

“If you label it this, it can’t be that” is a code I’ve tried to adhere to since my quests as a teenage Spincase. So I’m breaking Ken Kesey’s (as told by Tom Wolfe) mantra here, but only partly because I would never do the miracle that are mushrooms the disservice of trying to portray with words the secrets that they can uncover and cover right-the-fuck back up if they so choose. Partly out of respect for them and partly from a stunted vocab and mostly because that first sip seems to be chasing me and these b-word things you gotta do in one fell. 

For me, mushrooms are a lot like a Dr. Dog show. I’ve seen those guys a ton of times, but after the first few shows I saw, when they’d come around, I’d always have a “Dude, I’ve done it, I’ve seen it, I saw them back in ’06 when they were super eager...I’m too old for this shit. Fuckers dancing everywhere – I’m too old for this shit.” But I’d always begrudgingly get up and go. And low–and-behold, there’d I’d be stomping and grinning and dancing my dick into the dirt and begging for somebody younger to spill a beer on me so I could show them how much no worries it was. So a few years ago, I accepted it, I made a pact as I recently did with mushrooms: if they pass through town, you get off your droned candy-ass and you go. You buy a ticket, no matter the venue. You put those mushrooms in your mind- belly. Every. Time. Because it’s fucking awesome. 

Wait. Don’t eat mushrooms at a concert – you’re way too old for that shit. Two separate things, if you weren’t following. What you do is you grab a bag of mushrooms and get North of San Francisco and you get to a higher place and look down on the City and the Sea and you find an odd spot to sit and flop around on like a land fish until it’s time to start dumping beers down your throat and reflect on the day. Because during those few hours, which seem like nobody’ll ever know, it’s the one time where it’s acceptable to accept a goddamned genuine brain-hug from yourself. In the frenzied quagmire that is a mushroom trip, you actually cut yourself a fucking break. 

It was insane. And I remember the exact moment from the other day – one of those moments hurtling through Spain that are oft times impossible to throw a lasso around and tame – I remember amid the cacophonous spook parade in my mind, they all – and myself included – stopped and, in harmony in unison, laughed and agreed: I like hanging out with You. Even the real Fuckers. The Stalwarts of Doubt. Even they, in that moment, divulged that...they Like being Me. And it wasn’t just relief to not be somebody else. It was just...because we’re Me. 

...you gotta hoist yer flag and then’a beat yer drum...mmmhmmm. 

And then I woke up in the morning and truly, without any effort at all, hated myself and knew that the road ahead, the path I put my dumbass on without even really asking, was going to be at best awful and at who-gives-a-shit impossible and the reason it’s like this is probably because I bludgeoned myself with psychotropic drugs when my mind was malleable and green. Here’s lookin’ at you, Kid. 

2023

I don’t know where to start because I don’t know what to say because I hate the B- word but I suppose where I am is as good a place as any: The airport. There’s no place like an airport to remind you just how inept, lonely and afraid you actually are. No, no: that’s a good thing. Airport meltdowns are important. Because it solidifies the notion that anybody who sold you on the reassuring myth that you start to accept Yourself in your 30’s is a shortsighted nitwit who probably started befriending people who insist that they themselves are super “blessed”. 

Telling somebody in their 20’s that things get better is absurd on a number of levels. Mainly, because any self-respecting self-effacing person in their 30’s is aware enough to stop talking to people in their 20’s all together, as an entire people. They just don’t matter anymore. 

I’m 31. And, speaking for my People: You don’t accept your place in the world, you just distract yourself enough, try to stay busy enough, to forget to remember to look in the mirror. And then your Mom drops you off at the airport and you’re still traveling in a fucking back-packing back-pack and you have so much shit in your pockets when you go through security and you stink like Popov and Winterland ‘73 and now you’re almost in tears and nobody’s fooled by your Filson computer bag (they know your successful friend got it for you) and the one airport activity that brought you solace – standing outside the Gordon Biersch and judging those with “job”-Jobs and Hilton Honors – that makes you feel worse. Maybe that’s always been the problem. Because the sad, cold truth is that you will and always will be exactly what you’ve been running from, trying to disguise or dismiss and lately desperately trying to forget...I’m sorry to say it, Pal: You’re You. 

Now I’m on the plane and I had meant to take out the laptop earlier because I started to laugh at the mild meltdown back in terminal 3. But I had the brass Dick to have a moment of self back-patting, listening to the seldom-heard-from voice that said:
--“You’re going to San Francisco to see some good friends, to talk score on the movie we shot in October – shot two feature films in 2014?!? – I’m telling you, Man; you’re doing 
alright. Not that you want ‘em, because Theroux definitely wouldn’t, but if you did want another bag of Terra Blues...well, Buddy Boy, you fucking deserve ‘em. It’s been a pretty good year.” 

And then it happened. 

I looked up and across the aisle at the seatback screen being watched by a Man probably a decade my senior and the DOW JONES (or whatever the fuck) channel is on. The cacophony commenced:
--“Hey, you fucking half-full half-wit: do you have the slightest fucking clue what any of those scrolling numbers mean?”
(Crickets)
--“Those shit-chips are 
free, Motherfucker!! Maybe if you had an inkling as to what’s going on on 5A’s screen, We would have the financial stones to purchase something from the menu or a goddamned 10 dollar cold pressed from the CIBO back near the fucking Gate but that’s exactly the type of shit you can’t do when you don’t know about things.” 

It wasn’t going well and it only got worse because I figured I should go to the bathroom before I take out my laptop because staring at a blank screen’s the fucking answer. So I get up and make a move but somebody cuts me off and I see in my immediate future an anxiety stroke because I never go to the front to go to the bathroom because I’ve never flown first class (which I’m fine with. Honest). But JetBlue doesn’t have first class and I’m too close to the front to go all the way to the back – imagine how that would look? - and now I’m standing in the aisle like an asshole, fake stretching—
--“Fuck. All eyes are on Us. This is the pits.”
--“Don’t flatter yourself, Faggot.” 

And then I hear an ex-girlfriend’s voice saying some bullshit like “be assertive” or “can’t you just be decisive?” and that actually helps because I think Alone’s good, Man. Nobody tells me what to do, nobody wanting me to be the Man I never was and officially will never be - and that’s great. Having a partner, somebody expecting things from— (and they’re off): 

--“You realize that that’s what the Loneliest Man in the World said not 20 years before he became the Loneliest Man in the World...”
-- “He’s not saying Alone forever. He’s saying it’s fine right now, given, you know, everything that’s happened. That’s all he’s saying. I think that’s all he’s saying. That’s all you’re saying, right?”
--“That’s how it starts, you fucking Dick Juggler. That’s how it fucking starts. I gotta get outta here before he brings us all down with him.”
--“It’s like a goddamned sewing circle in here. I need a fucking drink.” 

I sit back down. Another woman comes out of the bathroom. I get up again, cut off (again), sit back down. This happens two more times, I shit you not, and the last time I try a knowing chuckle, like “Man, just my luck” which all Me’s agree makes me look like a complete fucking Wanker. I finally get to the bathroom and realize that all I wanted to do was wash my hands because the Chinese kid next to me coughed and I switched channels on my arm rest (albeit with my off-hand pinky) and handled a piece of gum...the same gum that’s in my stupid fucking mouth. 

--“Wait. If that Chinese kid was Black would you be washing your hands?” --“Well, given the State of our Union—“
That’s a silly question. Of course I would wash my fucking hands.
--“Bullshit. I don’t think you would. I honestly don’t think you would. And that makes you fucking ten times worse than those Cops.” 

That’s fucking INSANE!!! 

--“Wait, so does he hate Chinese people?”
--“This is like Bill Maher for Ass-Hats in here. I need a fucking drink.” 

Suddenly the thought of anyone looking at me seems crazy because now I can’t even stand the sight of my maybe-racist-face in the mirror. And then it dawns on me: I put myself in a movie across from a terribly beautiful Woman and I’m worried about a plane-full of weary travelers - most of whom are sleeping – simply looking at me?!? Clearly, we’re not cut out for this...this...whatever you wanna call it. Movies. Jesus. Clearly this has all been a big misunderstanding between Me’s. 

So. I took a deep breath and looked in the mirror, slowly nodding, and We all agreed: 2015’s a wash. 2023. Let’s just get to our 40’s. 

Kids.

I was gonna go for a run before I sat down to do this chore, but I figure I’d feel better about myself and where’s the fun in that? There’s no better time to talk about who you’d rather be than a Monday morning after you’ve been diligently stuffing anything and everything into your face for the past 72 hours (or 20 years). So obviously, I should have kids. 

Fuck off; that was written with a straight face. There are two reasons to have kids (aside from the whole procreation thing, but that’s become kinda moot because the world needs less people and anybody that has more than two kids is an asshole). One reason being you can’t be scared anymore. Or, I should say, you can’t show it. And for a guy who outwardly celebrates his inner Pussy, this would be a big step toward being what I (on this terrifying Monday) want to become: less Paul Rudd, more Clive Owen. 

*Men – real Men – never use two desirable actors as their Man Barometer. 

I know my Father pretty well now. He’s not even remotely close to even a shadow of the Man he fronted back in the late 80’s/early 90’s – and he’ll be the goddamned first one to tell you that. I mean, he can still scare the Dick off me when his voice turns, but, the tree is close, and alas, Pussies are We. 

In 1994 he took us to a Dead show in Highgate, VT, divorce papers filed soon thereafter. I guess I was in 4th grade – we took the boat up Lake Champlain and biked the rest of the way, flashlights duct taped to the handlebars. The show’s not the point here – sure, they played an “Althea” and “Uncle John’s-->Drums-->Space-->I Want to Tell You” – the point is what happened afterward, back at the boat, back ‘round midnight. Larry (that’s my Dad’s name, but the 15 people reading this know that) put the bikes on an inner-tube and swam them back to the boat, one by one. On the third trip (it could have been the first, but I’m scrapping for details), Lowell and I hear, high up in the White Pine above us (again, scrapping), some sort of mutant marsupial battle royale. Larry’s back in the water at this point, and one of the Juice Rats falls from forty fucking feet and lands close enough to halt any potential growth my Dick had planned on post ’94 and the motherfucker scurries right out into the water, swimming inches past the Old Man. Too scared to cry, Lowell and I are squealing like stuck pigs, and the Old Man gave a casual “We’re good,” probably even throwing in a reassuring chuckle of sorts. Now, you ask him today what was pumping through his brain and he’ll tell you simply: “terror”. Lord knows, Larry’s no thespian. But that’s what being a Father can do: force you into acting like the Man your kids can tell a story about. 

There was another story in the holster for the first reason to have kids (being stop being comfortable seeming scared). It involved Larry taking the hook out of the mouth of an eel down on the Long Island Sound when that sumbitch reverse coiled up his arm and I don’t quite remember because I was, like, four or five and my vision went static with fear but (seemingly) nonplussed Larry just peeled the fucker off and threw it back into the water. I guess I just told the story. 

The one other reason to have kids is so somebody in the world – if only for a few years - thinks you’re the Best. 

It had to have been ’89 or ’90. Fuck me, that just doesn’t seem that long ago. I should go for a run. (Fuck you, embrace it.) And in those years and the ones immediately surrounding it, I measured everyone’s accomplishments and successes based on one criterion: Speed. If you were fast, you could probably provide. If you were fast, hell, you could probably cook, sing, draw and build a deck, too. Fuck Carl Lewis: Larry was faster. So, when Shane Kelly said at the bus stop one Fall morning “I’m faster than your Dad,” you can imagine that after a feeble attempt at laughing it off, I did what I’ve always done in the face of adversity: I cried. 

Shane Kelly was probably three or four years my senior, and he was arguably the biggest piece of shit I’ve met in all of these 31 years. I’ve met some shitty people, but that fucking kid was so gross – some inbred future meth-head crawled through the sewers of Lebanon, NH and snuck his way into our pretty fine Vermont lives. Don’t get me started. Fuck, I can just end it here: I hope he’s dead. 

So motherfucker keeps talking shit, every morning, and I keep crying, everyday. Pleading with the Old Man to just fucking smoke that greasy shit weasel – to put that scumbag in his place. But Larry chose not to run. 

What was I gonna do? Fuck it. Fuck everybody. I walked out to the bus-stop one morning, accepting defeat on my Old Man’s behalf. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe it was just time to fucking grow up and learn the hard way: There’s only one person you can count on in this world and that’s Yoursel...and that’s when I heard our front door open from across the street and I knew: My Old Man was about to race a pretty quick nine-year-old. 

I gotta give my Mom credit, because I think she gave the green light on the race. And then I gotta (begrudgingly) give Shane credit because that’s probably the last time my parents agreed on something. My brother says that I’m tripping when I insist that the Old Man had a coffee cup in his hand and actually took a sip halfway to the stop sign. But he did because he could because I say so because you make your parents what they are even if history or they themselves don’t remember ever feeling that Great. 

Yeah, maybe a trust fund wouldn’t have sucked. But who am I to say anything? I sat on the couch all day yesterday humming a fucking Coldplay song and worrying about my hairline and the fact of the matter is: You can’t do that shit when you’re The Fastest Man in the World. 

Why We Made a Movie. Or Something. (On IT'S US)

I guess the more apt question would be “Why the fuck do we do anything?” I can’t answer that for everyone, but what gets me out of bed in the morning is a queasy cocktail of insecurity and fear. I hear a lot of Men in entertainment – comics in particular – say they’ve always been motivated by trying to get Girls. For me, I just want people – Men and Women alike - to think I’m good at something. Even if I’ll never really be sure if I am or not. 

For a guy who wrote, directed, starred in and helped produce a(nother) feature, playing the “I’ll never be sure if I’m good at anything” card seems pretty transparent. You’ll just have to believe me. And while you’re deciding on that, I should amend my motivation attributes: Fear and Insecurity and the self awareness to accept that I’d never be able to hold a real, steady job. 

Enough about me, though. Wait. I actually have to talk about me for another paragraph so we can get to what we wanna talk about, which is this movie called IT’S US. But we have to start in and around 2010 with the sad sack in his one bedroom apartment listening to Elvis Costello’s “Home is Anywhere You Hang Your Head” on repeat, running and drinking and feeling super sorry for himself. Ahhh, the Late-20’s Upper Middle Class Pretty Attractive Caucasian Blues. It’ll really getcha. Long story short, I wanted to write. That’s what sad people did, I figured. The directing and acting thing was never really on my radar because, well, there were people – friends of mine – who seemed better suited to do those things. But luckily, as 30 grabbed me by the Dick and convinced me that there were Better Days (also when I revisited late 80’s/early 90’s Bruce) ahead, Los Angeles opened itself up to me. No, no – not like that. I mean that I realized everybody is full of shit (90%, maybe) and nobody knows or does a damn thing (again, 90%). So I said “Fuck everybody. Let’s see what we can do.” 

****What really happened was that I said “Dude. When you moved here, you said if nothing really good has happened by the time you turn 30, we gotta move back East and work for Octagon if they’ll have us.” Uncle Woody is Vice President at Octagon. 

I’m doing this whole chronological who-gives-a-shit bio, and that’s not what this is. Goddamnit. Before I go any further, I have to say that I have the greatest fucking friends in the world. That’s where luck comes into play. I’m a lucky motherfucker because I can’t imagine that I’ve done enough karmic do-goodery here on this mortal coil to deserve the people I get to call friends. They made all of this possible. And that’s fucking more than enough gushing about those pricks for at least a few months. 

So my friend Myles and I and a slew of those aforementioned friends made a movie called LOSER’S CROWN in January of 2014 for next to nothing. And that got us here. My Man Jon Dishotsky loved the “Fuck Everybody (in LA)” attitude and believed in the cause. So, instead of trying to perfect and edit LOSER’S CROWN into the 88 minute Fargo Gay & Lesbian Film Festival darling that it had every right to be had we entered it there, I figured I’d write another script to shoot in the Fall in Vermont 

(as opposed to the depths of January). We had the original gaggle of knuckleheads with a few clutch free agency signings, a lot more money (from the original nothing), Larry (my father, whose house the crew stays at) was gonna get a more efficient hot water heater and, whatta you know, the script basically wrote itself. Now all we had to do was find the Perfect Woman. “Come to Vermont and make a movie with us at my Dad’s house. I mean, you don’t have to stay there. All of my friends who are working on the movie stay there. It’s a good scene, though. Super not rapey. You gotta try this Switchback beer. We listen to a lot of Studio Dead.” That was more or less my pitch. 

I have to put a governor on my want to empty out the contents of my heart in this next paragraph. Maybe I need a drink. Or some soup – Larry just made a turkey soup and I’ve always said that what he does well, he does really well. He never took a shine to that saying, but I like it. Ok, Fuck it: Eliza Coupe. I was just being nice when I said the “lucky motherfucker” thing in regards to having the friends that I have. They’re the lucky ones. Mostly kinda kidding about that, but I needed the transition, because the word “luck” doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of whatever cosmic miscommunication led to Kirsten Ames (Eliza’s manager and now dear Friend of mine...she loves Mars Hotel) responding to a cold email I sent. And THEN I’m guessing somebody straight up fell asleep in the Cosmos – and I’m certain subsequently lost their job as Secretary of Fate – when they (Kirsten and Eliza) both dug the material and wanted to meet. Or it could just simply be the centuries tested and repeatedly proven Elizabethan adage: Bitches be Cray. 

I’m not a fucking actor. I should have said that a lot earlier. Eliza’ll scold me for saying that or accuse me of trying to be a contrived version of cool (and be 100% right), but I’m not. And now I’ve gotta play married? Thompson, you really fucked yourself this time. But thank God that Stoner in Space took that nitrous hit, because not only did the top Woman I wanted to do the movie want to do the movie (what if she turns out to be a lunatic? Luckily, I was quite confident that I could out lunatic her, so I wasn’t too worried on that front), but it turned out to be the only Woman who could play the part, the only Woman who could make me the best I never thought I could be...”Perfect” isn’t the right word. She’s It. And I’ll say it right here, on this blog post nary 100 people will read this deep into: Hey. She took a chance and made this movie what it is. And for that, I’ll spend the rest of my days (my days leading up to taking the job at Octagon) trying to move mountains (albeit smaller mountains, but a lot of them...low weight, high reps) and kicking down Dicks because I’ll never be able to fully articulate how Grateful I am that she came into my life. Kirsten, too. From that day we met at Café Gratitude in Hollywood, we both....ahhhh, FUCK. There it is. There it fucking is. I always said that if I ever write “...day we met at Café Gratitude in Hollywood...” I’d have to excuse myself from the computer and go stand in the cold for a half hour. 

Okay. It’s like 37 degrees, so it was fine. I’ll punish myself, though – don’t you worry. What else do you want me to say? I got lucky. Not to say that I didn’t work hard to get here. I worked my Dick off. But hell, it’s not like I’m laying brick here. 

My callouses are from tennis and playing Lucinda Williams songs on the guitar. And I’m not saying some shit like “with a lot of hard work and a little luck...” or whatever the fuck the saying is. I’m just saying I’m probably happy and something resembling proud and that’s because of the Friends that I have and the Woman who took a chance. I’m not gonna question it. I’m just gonna try and keep a straight face and hope nobody’s pulling the greatest prank there ever was.