And some of them have the greatest backyards where on special occasions we gather, sing songs and celebrate how lucky we are to know each other.
Last night we showed love to the birthday boy Dylan Callaghan who serenaded us with originals and covers by The Lemonheads, Teenage Fanclub and many others.
I don’t drink a lot of booze these days, but I’ve gotta say, because I knew it was gonna be a long, warm, beautiful night I did have a glass when I arrived. And maybe another after that, and maybe a third (!) soon after.
I am such a sucker for a good red wine and Dylan and his wife had such a delicious spread of food, a bartender, and a wide assortment of people.
I arrived at 9… left around 3.
It’s hard to believe in luck. But I must say, of the things I am eternally grateful for, it is the people who I met in college who are such delightful people.
We can talk about anything. They are all so smart and talented. Rarely do we focus on “the good old days” because we continue to have new good days.
When they talk about their kids or their dogs or their jobs or their cars it’s almost always funny.
We laugh and laugh at pretty much everything.
And time flies on nights like last night the same way they did when we were beachside in Isla Vista.
Thank you God for these people. Probably the biggest blessing in my life.
so i said, okay
tomorrows earth day and all the subways and busses are free, so im gonna go down to lyft and get my car inspected so i can get back out on the road and sure i wont make a ton of money like in olden times but i just cant sit around the house any more waiting for my space shuttle to come in.
tuesday i have a feeling something magical is going to happen
wednesday i have lunch with an old colleague who wants to talk about something up his sleeve. hes been wanting to do with me for a while and i have always been of the sort who would rather do something with someone who wants to do something with you, than to try to squeeze yourself into the life of someone who is on the fence about you.
thursday theres a mixer. i never go to these things. i know the coolest people and have the greatest friends. but that doesnt mean i am social irl. but i havent seen the dude who is hosting it in eons and i have a hard out because im seeing avengers at 8:30pm. so hi, hows everyone. sip sip, laugh laugh. gone.
and then friday morning i try to encourage the kids to ignore the voices in their heads that are telling them not to be incredible. i should probably put notes online for that tomorrow. maybe a greatest hits of what i did over the last five years, you know, when they were in high school. theyre gonna hate me.
About once a year i get asked to speak to college kids and it’s terribly flattering but am i really the best person for them to listen to?
If I was someone in his right mind I’d say, be as Robinson Crusoe’s dad told him to be and be as mediocre as fuck.
“[The] middle station has the fewest disasters and is not exposed to so many vicissitudes as the higher or lower part of mankind,” the senior Crusoe said.
Vicissitudes of course being “a change of circumstances or fortune, typically one that is unwelcome or unpleasant.”
I will be speaking to upper division storytellers and journalists, so i will remind them what i was taught at their age in the College of Creative Studies about what makes a good story:
introduce likable characters that the reader cannot help but fall in love with and then fuck them over royally and watch them overcome the disaster(s).
Therefore in good storytelling there is nothing more central than a big fat vicissitude
so how on Earth do you think you can write from experience about tragedy, misfortune, and struggle, unless you have found yourself head first into some shitty shit yourselves?
Which is why I advise all of you to ignore Mr. Crusoe’s well-intentioned instruction (if you truly want to be writers), and avoid the middle path entirely as that is where there is little reward. And if you have noticed not one person ever wrote the story about the Senior Crusoe, the first novel ever was written about his wild son and the crazy shit he experienced when he ran away from his family who wanted him to be a dumb lawyer.
Which brings us to you, I will say.
You are young, the world is out to get you. There’s global warming that half the politicians won’t even talk about. Homelessness, especially here in Southern California is crazy. Gas is over $4 a gallon. We won’t even talk about how many banks you gotta rob to buy a house here.
And the debt that you are racking up every minute, hour, and day in this college is more crippling than you know. How do I know this? Because if you really let it sink in, none of you would be smiling. You’d be angry. You’d be nervous. And for damn sure you wouldn’t be studying to be journalists — you’d be in Pre-Med or Pre-Law or Pre-420.
But you’re here, I will continue. Which means that like me, you are idealists, which means your life is forever fucked. Because you think you are the exception. You think you can change the world. You think that Robert Frost was right when he chose the road untaken.
So continue to take it.
Take it and write about every step. And if you aren’t writing every day now, start.
Let me tell you the good news and bad news about writing and creativity and aging: Right now. RIGHT NOW you are a fountain of ideas and a wellspring of good shit. The problem is very little of it fits into what adults have considered “correct” in school. And so every time you write something super interesting in class that breaks the mold or colors outside the lines, you will not get an A and anything less than an A is a ding to our egos and subconsciously tells us that we have failed somehow. Of course you didn’t write that sentence perfectly. Of course you’re rough around the edges. Most of you were born post 9/11. WTF! You’re babies.
You think it sucks when you don’t get as many likes on your Instagram as you expected? Your whole life teachers have been teaching you how to get likes and since you’ve made it into this fine institution you have figured out how to get enough of them in class, but let’s be real few of us are straight A students and to that I say Good.
We all know the key to being really successful at school: it is to give the teacher in front of you precisely what he or she wants. That, by the way, is the polar opposite of what it means to be creative, interesting, or Robinson Crusoe. Name me one book about a kid who did exactly what his teacher wanted. Now show me one person who wants to read that? Not even my fucking Siri obeys my every wish and you know what, good for her.
For about 10 years you will be filled with all the energy and weird ideas in that beautifully developing mind that you have now and if you do not write it down, especially now that I have warned you, you are dumb. And I know you aren’t dumb because I have been in this class before and this is not the room for the dummies.
“Oh, but you say, you’re in your 50s and you seem incredible.” True! But the only reason I’m as fucking rad as I am today is because i have been writing down my insane shit forever. That’s the only way to keep that oil well working through your 40s. And trust me, it will be in your 40s that you will need it the most because if you think shit’s bad now, just wait until all the peers that you hate start making their way into Congress.
But back to youth. Think about all the great rock stars. Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, the Stones, even the rap stars like Kanye and Eminem and current stars like Taylor Swift and Billie Eilish: all their great stuff was when they were young.
I dare you to tell me that “Reputation” was better than “Fearless”. Or that “Yeezus” was better than “College Dropout.”
Prince wrote (and performed) Purple Rain when he was 25 years old. Sure he wrote some good stuff when he was 45, but it sure wasn’t Purple Rain. AND THAT’S PRINCE!
Which is weird because wouldn’t it make more sense that once you have truly mastered your instrument you would be better and better? Shouldn’t Eddie Van Halen at 64 be a better guitar player than he was in his 20s? Yes. But he’s not. Neither are the guys in Led Zeppelin. Neither is Ice Cube or Jay Z or this one that one. And these are people who practiced getting their flow out!
Age grabs you when you aren’t looking and throws you on the rocks like Robinson’s many shipwrecks and leaves you on an island of hungry hungry cannibals.
So please do not sleep through your youth, writers. This is your time. There is something about having your first kiss in your first apartment with the prettiest girl you ever saw — especially if you are also a girl. Youth is the gasoline for the bonfire of creativity and even though I am the exception to that rule too, I am telling you from my heart, it doesn’t last forever. It’s noon and I already wanna take a nap.
So promise me this. Promise me that tonight when you get home. Before you get too tired. And preferably before the sun goes down: start a blog on blogger.com. Do not tell anybody about it, make it private, and write the scariest story you have to tell.
Scary not Friday the 13th, but scary like you have not told anyone this story except maybe maybe maybe your best friend in life. Embarrassing. Or Thrilling. Or something that you might consider bragging. And then tomorrow write the second scariest story, and every day keep pushing your comfort zone. Keep digging deeper. Change your style slightly every day and write from different perspectives. Make the shit rhyme. Fill it up with ridiculous lies and unexpected details. Like Tolstoy, get into the minds of the characters and tell us what they’re thinking. And if you’re super cool, don’t tell, show.
And continue to experiment all the damn time.
You are not being graded on this. No one is reading this. But if you keep it up and at the end of this year you have 100 little stories and you’re 20 or 21 years old, I promise you that when you are 40 you will love the fact that you got these out of your head and into that private little crazy blog. These will be priceless to you. And then do it again every year of your life.
There will only be one thing stopping you. The devil is real and he lives in your head. Rent free! He tells you that you can’t write and that this story is stupid and it’s boring and you’re gonna get in trouble and blah blah blah. Put on an anti-devil hat. I am wearing mine. It’s a Cubs hat. When I put it on and I hear the devil I say, shhhh, the hat is on. STFU. You can talk when it’s off.
And then write. Even if you, too, are the exception to the rule, and even if you do this for 50 years, I bet you that the stories that you write from age 20 to 30 will be your best ones. I know this because – and there are exceptions – but that’s what history has shown us. In our youth we kick ass. Ironically it is also in our youth that teachers are paid to put a grade on our art and try to shame us and force us into the middle path of bullshit and soullessness, which is insane and criminal, but it is what it is.
My generation legalized weed, maybe yours can outlaw grades.
I have one more bit of advice on how to write when you are young: do it during the daytime. The younger you are and the further away you live from your parents’ rules, the more you should be doing anything else except homework at dark. For in the dark, when you are young, is where your stories will most likely come from. And aint nobody wanna read a novel about someone cramming for fucking finals — at a State School.
If it’s light out: study. If it’s dark out: party. Say no to drugs, don’t drink and drive. And stop listening to terrible fucking music.
I will now entertain questions.
on monday i was going to post this thing on facebook asking my friends to help me with leads on getting a new gig.
which is slightly embarrassing because as men we are trained to be super heroes and incredible and handsome and muscular and millionaires and strong — so strong that we never need to ask help. if anything we should be the ones that others call for help.
it reminded me of that elvis costello line from king of americas battered old bird
Well here`s a boy if ever there was
Who`s going to do big things
That`s what they all say
and that`s how the trouble begins
but then notre dame caught fire and i was like, nah i’ll post it on tuesday.
wrote it, posted it and people started calling me and writing me and instant messaging and DMs and even emails
it was nice. even got some strong leads.
two separate people had lunch with me and i have one more scheduled.
also this sweet person at a university wants me to talk to her class.
also four people sent me a job posting that Talking Heads frontman David Byrne is looking for a social person.
meanwhile i sent off some Big Ideas to two people who i would love to work with because fuck it, if i’m going to work for someone why not actually do the dream job that’s in my head instead of trying to fit into someone else’s dream?
i know it’s hard to believe, but i don’t feel comfortable with this attention.
people think that because i have a big personality in the real world that it’s because im starving for attention or i like to be in the spotlight or i want to have all eyez on me. it’s not the case. i just don’t like to flinch from a challenge.
ive been in my apartment for 8 months straight now. most of that was working on a secret project out of the office and only a few times at the beginning did i go interview people face to face.
sure im social, but im equal parts anti social. not because i dont love people (i totally do) but i also love pajamas.
the world works in mysterious ways because had this happened to me a few years ago i would be driving uber day and night. back then the driver made 80% of the fare and often, if you know how to work it, there were all these bonuses and you could capitalize on surge prices and… it was good. today its not good. today there are reports of drivers at Coachella, which is a good place to be driving each year, who are making $6 on a trip that the passenger paid $45 for.
the huge problem with that is: it’s already hard to get tipped doing a ride. especially a 15 minute ride. but do you think someone is going to tip you after they paid $45 to go 5 miles?
so that’s out. also driving is dangerous. also gas is over $4 a gallon now. also ive done 5,000 trips, im good. i just want to focus on the next thing. problem is it’s gotta happen soon. and some people dont call back. and some dont answer when you send them the perfect resume.
so you’ve gotta keep good thoughts in your head and convince yourself that God is working it in such a way that even though you Think that this job is perfect that He knows looks can be deceiving and He’s waiting for the right door to open.
and so far things have worked out. the last time i was out of work i was sitting here for half a year. i was also losing my mind. and then the Academy job was forwarded to me. that turned out to be the longest job i’d ever had. i worked with some very cool people. a tweet went viral. i learned sooooo much about social media. but most importantly i regained my confidence, which had been lost because even though i succeeded at certain aspects of working at kpcc, it wasn’t stuff that was super easy to see on paper.
the best things i think i did at kpcc was hire some incredible reporters, a few who are still there. i also moderated some great panel discussions, including one with Fishbone and one about healthy soul food.
one of the brunches i had this week was with a very smart guy who afterwards wrote me and said “I do think you’re a bit modest for your level of experience, and that others will take the opportunity to put themselves ahead of you for the goodies.”
i still dont know what to do with that advice. especially after a different person implored me to be a high paid consultant.
sure it would be nice to have a house one day. but i have to brag to get there?
i suppose we all have to break through our comfort zones to make it to the next level but isn’t my resume good enough? can’t these people see who i am and what i can bring?
are people seriously choosing lesser people — to even interview with? it’s shocking how few interviews ive even received. and trust me, i am applying for jobs that im qualified for. is it ageism? is that even a thing? i dont think so. am i insane?
should i just drive uber and ruin my car for peanuts? should i don that charlie chaplin costume? im so confused.
next week we have to drive up to see amber’s dad who is sick and wants to draw up a will.
it puts things in perspective, thats for sure.
and those are the times when you know youre alive
demons dont haunt the heads of the dead.
for a while there were sooooo many bloggers. this one. that one.
lots of them kept it real and those were nice. and then there were those who just bullshitted over and over and youd be like, are you serious?
and maybe they were but i dont think so.
i think after a while people like all the attention and comments and ad sales and fighting
but i dont.
i like peace and love, tranquility and ease.
which is why when its scary to blog, i need to remind myself that one,
no one reads this any more (good) and two,
people never think that your weirdo little secret shame is terrible. unless it is terrible and in that case you should seek help. but i read tons of blogs back in the day and no one was copping to super bad shit. nor should they have. most people are decent folk who feel bad over small things.
the trick is to not let those small things hold you down forever.
and thats the shit they should teach in school.
i have not been having the best luck with the job search. companies who should be knocking down my door wont even text me back. if i didnt have this incredible excess of confidence and Trust in the Universe, i would be panicking right now.
heres what im thinking about doing in the very near future if i cant get some nibbles on my resume.
im gonna get a charlie chaplin bowler hat and a cane. and then an old suit thats too big for me. and some white boards.
im gonna dress up like chaplin and go to hollywood blvd with a camera around my neck and a tripod with a big black sheet hanging from it. like old school camera setups had.
one white board is gonna say “let me take your picture.” and there will be little “free”s all around the words. maybe there will be a huge price tag taped to it that also says Free.
and it will be free. because who doesn’t love free?
I will flip the white board around once in a while and it will say “I will send you the picture, also for free, via email.”
and i will. because i am a genius.
i will take a few pictures of the people. posing. not posing. sad. happy.
i will not speak to the people. i will show the facial expressions with my own face. which will look like a mime charlie chaplin, btw.
i will also point with my cane. one thing i will point at is an ipad where they will give me their name, email address, and order number. their order number will be the number that i will write on a movie styled clapboard. i will take a picture of them holding that clapboard before i take the actual picture. that way i know who to send the next picture too.
after they enter the order number on the ipad, a screen will pop up and say, “would you like to tip this fine photographer?” and there will be options $2 $5 $25.
next to the $25 it will say Best Value
but i will treat everyone the same. i love people. and i love hollywood blvd. and i love taking pictures of people.
if they dont wanna tip thats fine because later that night when i get home i will email them their pics and in the email will be direct links to amazon and paypal and venmo and they can have one last chance to tip me. and if they dont so what.
anyone who tips will also get a thank you email. and on that email it will say, you are a wonderful person.
it will also say, because you are wonderful, you are qualified to be in a book that i may have out one day.
additionally: i have a secret instagram for all of this. if you would like to be on the instagram click here and if i have your permission to use this picture in a book one day maybe click here.
and i bet they’ll click there.
if things go well i will dress up as different types of people to mix things up.
tomorrow, for example, i would dress up as a french man. beret. striped shirt. i will point with a baguette.
my fear is someone may want to steal my camera. so i will have it around my neck. not sure where i will store the ipad.
also not sure if i should have props, so if people want to wear a funny hat they should be allowed to.
but i want these to be sorta nice 50mm portraits that they will actually like,
that will look good on a secret instagram
or in someone’s house as a fond memory of the time they got their picture taken for free
on hollywood blvd
by a dude in a boba fett costume
who never talked, but pointed at things with a baguette.
Upon my 21st birthday I went on a month-long solo European vacation. One of the first places I went to was Notre Dame.
When I got there I was told that earlier that morning someone had jumped off the roof. Did it close? No. In fact church went on like it had since the 12th century.
Something tells me they will rebuild, improve it tastefully, and celebrate life and loss as only the French can.
im a sucker for deals. like the biggest sucker. in the world. ever.
like my hero kurdt cobain, i have a very delicate stomach. when i was in college i weighed like 112 pounds. id go to the dining commons and get a bowl of jello and a few pieces of bread with butter. maybe a scoop of ice cream afterwards but id get “full” really fast because if i ate any thing more than a little something my stomach would rage at me like WTF tony!
even though my waistline has expanded greatly over time, it’s rare that i will finish my plate. the other night chris and i went to the pacific dining car because they were selling steaks for $1. of course the sides were $13 each and he ordered a martini that set him back $16. but we got out of there for $50 before tip. anyway, as good as the steak was, i still have half of it in the fridge. stomach hates red meat.
stomach also isn’t crazy about pizza. but im from chicago. and even though LA pizza can’t even compare to chicago pies, im a sucker for deals and pizza hut emailed me this special offer for a large 2 topping for $5.99. but you have to pick it up. no problem.
amber’s bus stops near the closest pizza hut to us so i said yo i’ll meet you in the parking lot in a half hour. im getting us a pizza. it’s warm right now. 75 or so. so before i drove there, i went to a local mini market and got a mexicoke for me and a sparkling water for her. then i grabbed a blanket and after we got the pizza i drove up the little hill to a little park and we had an impromptu picnic.
which she loved.
but here i am now at 1:27am with the worst stomach ache because duh. stomach hates pizza.
but that pizza was basically free!
you should just let those who have given up on theirs convince you that what youve always wanted is dumb
and that good things happen to everyone but you.
and that you dont deserve what you want now, but maybe next year or the year after that
or the year after that.
because of course tomorrow is guaranteed, and next year, and the year after
all these people died today, and all of them thought they were going to make it to tomorrow
and next year, and the year after that.
we just all have infinity years for our prince to come.
infinity years to get serious about climate change and health care and helping the poor.
our dreams can wait while we let the mediocre and terrified plot our futures.
who we are shouldn’t be expanded. nope. it should be stifled and reformed to fit into tidy boxes.
rock n roll should die.
best thing that happened today was the san francisco giants
who do not have a good team
won in the bottom of the 18th inning on a fuckup by the opposing catcher.
who was probs exhausted.
on friday nights they light fireworks after the game.
and there it was at 1:11 am and they said fuckit who cares if the neighbors are sleeping
boom boom boom fireworks into the bay. boom.
and the people of the twitter raised their fists at the moon
but giants don’t care.