i cant concentrate

the world is so crazy right now.

hello people in the future. this is tony in the past. hi.

today this guy resigned as editor of Vogue.com, not Vogue, the magazine, but Vogue the website.

one person i know who knows him liked him and i respect her but lemme tell you a little something

for maybe 25 years ive been putting things on the web. at the beginning we had to do it with HTML

but as things progressed they made little software programs to help make it easier to get what you wanted on the internet.

they call the software CMS (content management software). every company uses a different CMS for a variety of reasons: cost, control, or because they’re convinced that every other CMS sucks.

i look at CMSs the way I look at local bars: they’re all about the same and some have tiny charms but if you’re super into booze or super into people you’re gonna like any local bar.

in this example, if you’re super into getting cool shit up on the web, you’re gonna figure out whatever CMS is placed in front of you.

this fucker never learned any CMS and when you’re at a certain level you really dont have to.

you can have people print things out, you can take your red marker to it, and they’ll go fix it.

then you have a long lunch at a swanky restaurant and talk about things that have nothing to do with putting things onto the internet.

when you do end up having to talk about your web site you say a bunch of crap in a language that’s either loved or loathed and you float on like modest mouse.

i am never happy when someone loses their job because like most normal people i have experienced losing a job and it can be earth shattering. you cant relax because now youve gotta find a new job as fast as you can

but unfortunately life is all about trying to compete with people

or worse, working for people,

who do not know anything about CMSes.

theres many things i want to be,

but theres also things i DO NOT WANT TO END UP BEING.

i cant concentrate because the world is imploding

and as a midwestern boy i know that the most perfect place to be during a tornado

is in the center

zulieka has a child who scribbled on his wall

today we didnt leave the house.

i wanted to go but amber didnt.

we went to the park on saturday with her work friends and it was sweet.

really good people work over there.

it was a park in beverly hills that had tennis courts and a softball field, basketball courts, and lots of grass.

everyone was socially distancing, which was good.

two cops patrolled the people and for some reason were messing with the senior citizens.

kids were everywhere, happy to be out of the house. tons of dogs yapping. even saw three black women — one who arrived in a wheelchair.

in the back there is a playground that had some mushy material under it. spongey. magical. you stepped on it and it gave a little, which was freaky at first, but squishy. you could see a kid take a spill off the swings and be perfectly fine.

beverly hills.

today we watched church then the news. then coming to america.

i shoulda worked but it’s ten minutes to midnight and technically if i work in 10 minutes itll be monday

and i wont be breaking a commandment.

but still i feel like if its dark, it’s still today.

jurys still out i guess.

i heart you.

the never ending struggle between creativity and financial success

pure creativity takes many forms. not all of those are things prospective employers — or even current ones feel comfortable with.

we live in a time where everything is being analyzed and over analyzed to root out the racial insensitive garbage that should have been gone a long time ago.

but it’s also scooping out a lot of harmless humor that was never intended to be hurtful and now over time, under today’s context, it’s embarrassing.

for example comedians who sported blackface as satire are being criticized while actual racist political policies are somehow shielded. jimmy kimmel is getting heat for a comedy bit where he is pretending to be karl malone, but in kentucky last week they made 600k black people vote in One location (instead of hundreds) and everything is nbd.

sorry but voter suppression is a bd. a vbd.

jimble kimble in blackface *today* is cringeworthy, but as logic will tell us: consider the source.

which brings us to Eric Andre. who is hilarious. because he is outrageous. and his new special is fantastic but i think about his future. if he ever wanted to get a “real job” one day, and the HR manager saw this netflix show, it’d be over for him. he talks about smoking weed with his mom, how LSD is his favorite drug, and about the time he ate 4x as much molly as he should have.

it’s funny and regardless if it is true or not, it makes people laugh: which is the point of comedy.

comedy should also make us think and andre points out that this country was founded by Puritans and we are still pretty much stuck in that mindset. we get super freaked out with nudity, “foul” language gets bleeped on cable tv and radio, and yesterday we celebrated the 5th anniversary of same sex marriage. How is it that this country is almost 250 years old and gays and lesbians haven’t been viewed as equals for 245 of them? because shit’s fucked up.

and who better to shine the light on that disparity than the court jesters?

and the writers. and the artists. and the modern day opinion columnists, and the tiktokers and the athletes and the every day moms and dads who didnt grow up in a bubble, many of whom were educated in good schools

and know how to get on the mic and speak truth to power?

but we stifle critical thought unless it’s done in such a narrow, culturally appropriate NPR way.

which in of itself is fucked.

people should be allowed to speak their mind in the way that is effective regardless of style.

michaelangelo wanted to sculpt a giant nude teenage boy and back in the renaissance days italy was all, fuck yeah mike. then the pope was like, paint a shitload of naked bible people on the ceiling while youre at it.

how is it that we have not progressed in the land of the free and home of the brave? why is it that we dumb our shit down to appease the least evolved, least secure, most cowardly and insincere?

we know gay people getting married has zero to do with the sanctity of marriage. we know that diverse workplaces can do nothing but better our societies. we know that executive levels of one race and one sex is not just a bad look but less-than-ideal decisions will be made there.

but we keep on keeping on.

we punish the women who fight to be equal. we squelch creativity and humor and those who dare to push the envelope.

and yet we allow one bad policy after another to continue to live another day.

canada has it right about healthcare.

japan has it right about policing.

europe has it right about vacations for the workers.

and as problematic as the framers were in so many regards, like owning human beings, they were right about so many things that we shouldn’t immediately toss out what good things they brought to the table because of their shortsidednesses if thats even a word.

do i have the answer for everything? yes. jk. but together we do. if we really abide by the tenants of loving our neighbors and seeing the best in each other we can easily see what is good and bad and support the good. it’s not that hard.

comedy is not pretty but it’s vital. nazis are not vital. racism is not vital. love and creativity is essential.

and as we slouch forward to bethlehem, struggling to make cool shit despite the petty pace of the day to day, i invite each of you who reads this to ask
do i judge someones art based on puritan ideals of long ago, of frightened people who made no cool art, or am i here to encourage the magic of innovation and the glory of being the reflection of God.
warts and all.

today is my favorite teacher, robyn bell’s birthday

i have been blessed with many great teachers, but my favorite one was my last official one.

a fan of bob dylan, lou reed, the clash, and less popular stars like emily dickinson and others, robyn had the unique ability to make you feel like you were actually teaching her something every now and then

the college of creative studies was an oasis for many young people like me who struggled in traditional classrooms with bizarre structures and concepts like “grades”

at UCSB’s secret college, creatives were encouraged to allow their minds to roam free and promised that they would not be punished if they colored outside the box.

and yet, guidance was administered. in robyn’s case with the most gentle of nudges.

one young man whose name escapes me was raised in the midwest, which despite its charms, was narrow-minded when it came to matters of “alternative” sexuality. and so in a poem or a story this lad had a character rip into a series of gay epithets,

instead of saying “i get it that you’re 21 but do you not know the first thing about some of your heroes and the names they were called? why would you lower yourself to such base and predictable dialogue from the mouths of your characters? and, indeed, why must you insist on being a basic bitch?”

robyn instead wrote in a little note next to the quotes, “you can do better tony”

and that young man never wrote such things ever again.

while many of my heroes are controversial and divisive and burned bridges here and there, somehow robyn was loved by every single person she came in contact with. which isn’t to say there was not conflict in her classroom. i remember more than one student who felt uncomfortable in a class of hers and acted out, causing quite the scene.

and it was shocking watching her handle the students. her smile became stern. her voice lowered. and lasers shot out of her eyes, hypnotising the young demons right there in their chairs.

i saw one youngster levitate and then fall when he raised his voice to the professor.

he asked to be excused and scurried down the hall past the free pizza and disappear into the sky.

but mostly i watched how in just a matter of weeks students who were incredibly distracted by all types of things at the beach side party school, read the books she assigned, hand in the papers, and grow as writers.

the things i learned from her i use every day in almost everything i write. and when i teach i do my best to steal everything i can remember.

today is her birthday and we are all so lucky to have received the blessing of her presence. the next statue they tear down they should replace with one for Robyn.

as The New England Mystic once said,

spark one up for the woman who gave your life zing. you owe her almost everything.


it’s 6am

A lot went on yesterday. A lot.

Work, unemployment, Amber, mom, AMC theaters, my internet, my car.

Because my phone is also an issue, if I have to take an important call I go outside.

Yes, I live in a major US city in 2020.

My dream is to one day own a Tesla because it drives itself yet I cannot make a phone call from my bedroom.

While outside I spotted the family who is parking in front of our apartment who intentionally take up two spots with one car so that they have a spot for the second car when they need it.

The mom and daughter Bridgette saw me looking at them. I stared them down. Because I was on the phone I couldn’t say anything. But also I had made a deal with Amber I wouldn’t say anything.

So I just stared and shook my head.

Being on the phone I’m sure I looked like a male Karen but weirdly not saying anything was more unsettling to them.

First the mom then Bridgette defended themselves as they unpacked the mini van.

“You have parking behind your building. We do not!” Said the mom.

Then she said,”don’t move your head like that!”

“We pay for these permits too. We have the right!” Said Bridgette. Soon she unbuckled a small child from the back seat and they all walked to the next block where they live.

I had many arguments to rebut. Like, we only have a few spots behind our building. Stop being selfish.

But it turned out that was not the biggest problem I faced.

And maybe Ambers right. Maybe that family has it so tough they feel like they’ve gotta cheat to make it.

When the Good Book says the way you treat the least of mankind is the way you treat Me, maybe it’s not referring just to the poorest of the poor. Maybe it’s referring to all of us. Because at any moment we could be struggling and it seems so desperate, so anxiety-ridden. So dire.

My fucking internet craps out every 15 minutes and I feel like the world is gonna end.

Imagine having real problems that seem insurmountable.

Imagine graduating high school and you’ve got a 2 year old.

Or worse, you gotta always take care of one.

the biggest problem i have right now

there’s this parking spot near my place that can fit two cars if you do it right

sometimes we have to put a note on someones car because they park in the middle taking up both spots but after a while everyone figures it out.

at the beginning of the pandemic parking was scarce because no one was going to work and everyone was stuck at home

and no one had to move their cars because the mayor had ixnayed street cleaning.

so every now and then youd have to circle the block a few times and eventually youd get a spot

one day we noticed that this family was parking both of their mini vans in the double spot,

but when one of them left, they’d inch the other car up to the middle to save the other spot all day.

well, let me tell you, there were some sharply worded letters left on their windshields, mister.

of which were roundly ignored.

to rub it in, at some point, their daughter bridgette graduated high school.

i know this because they wrote on the back windows of both minivans

donald trump star on hollywood walk of famecongratulations bridgette class of 2020!

one of the neighbors asked a cop what can be done.

cop said

it’s not against the law to be an asshole.

because im an idiot, i always think you can reason with people

what you’re doing is not cool, i told the mom, who ignored me.

amber said later, leave them alone, theyre poor.

i said, we have one car, they have two.

amber said, they have three, bridgette got a car for graduation.

they wrote on the back of that car too.

amber said, this is not worth it, youre going to get shot over a parking spot.

today i saw the dad.

walk up the street, amber, i said. she reluctantly did.

why are you doing this? i asked him.

he finished putting the sun shield on the underside of the windshield.

there’s parking all over. there’s a spot right there, i said, pointing at actually the best spot on the street because you secretly dont even need a permit on that spot because it used to be a meter.

not only did he not answer me but he didnt look at where i was pointing and he walked away.

where are you going? i asked like i was his mother.

i go home.

and this is where i feel ashamed of myself because when i was in junior college, working long hours and going to school and trying to adjust to LA, and not having a bunch of friends for the first time in a long time,

i made a very good amount of money selling tvs.

but i quit because idealistically i had a hard time getting negotiated down by smart white guys,

whereas many of the minorities would save up their cash


and be the most delightful customers of all sorts of audio and video

typically at full hit.

so i started pumping gas at the last full service gas station in beverly hills.

i wanted to help the people, not rip them off.

and at first i thought id do it for a little while but i loved it.

and i advanced a little, and got tipped, and dated a few of the patrons

which is tougher than you think when you have 5 minutes to pump the gas, check the fluids, and get a phone number

when you don’t exactly look like brad pitt.

and youre in a gas station guy uniform.

and one of the things that i learned there was… well let’s say there were about three of us black guys, two white guys, and everyone else was Latino.

like bridgette’s parents.

and working those pumps, outside in the sun, for eight hours a day

dudes of all backgrounds


and some of what you learn are truisms that stick with you forever.

well i used one of them on bridgette’s dad as he walked down the street

ignoring my conversation

which even he would probably admit is insulting.

and i said, what you are doing is selfish.

do you know that word?

and i coulda said ask bridgette, but that’s unnecessary

instead i said

black and brown people need to stop living in a world of scarcity.

which im pretty sure he didnt hear because i was wearing a mask.

and thats the biggest problem i have right now.

do you know i love you? i do.

the world is going through some interesting phases right now.

it reminds me of how i am when i am sick. i get angry and bitter and then sad. then i think imma die. then i get real quiet.

then i promise to God Above that i am gonna change if i survive it all.

then i get even MORE sick and eventually puke all over everything. then i sleep for a while, clean the whole house, eat right for once, and return stronger.

i think this country is in the puking stage followed by the burning of police stations and Wendys’

i must say this is the first time i have ever seen a nation as a whole go through this together, and it is fascinating to watch some resist it. but if i can return to analogies about bodily fluids: when you have to puke, putting your hand in front of your mouth only makes it spray.

this is change we are going through. real change. change for the better. and hopefully what will soon follow is change for women and immigrants and on and on. i hope it’s like dominoes. i hope it happens one after another. because the thing is, all people who have felt like their growth has been stymied dont want to take the sunlight from others, we just want to share it.

and theres enough for everyone.

white men can relax. there will always be room for them at the table. Larry Bird taught us that. as did Eminem. as the great Lizzo said, If I’m shinin’, everybody gonna shine.

also: if everyone on the team is hitting their marks, and performing at their best, things are easier for everyone and life is better. dont we all want life to be better for everyone? are there people who truly want to be the only successes? i want to meet them. i wanna see whats up with them.

ok its 1026pm. dinner time.

dear people of the future, hello

if you look back at your history books you’ll see that this period of time starting in may of 2020 a lot of weird wild shit went down after an otherwise unknown man, George Floyd, was murdered by a group of police in Minneapolis.

it’s really fascinating how some movements start and how others dwindle quickly.

but the perfect storm of so many of us being holed up due to the coronavirus lockdown and the fact that Floyd’s death was documented on handheld video while several yelled at the cops to stop, became the last straw for people… around the world, to say that racism is fucked up, the power of police is fucked up, and the fact that rarely do cops get punished is fucked up.

meanwhile theres a perfectly good quarterback being shunned from his job because he dared to peacefully protest about these very same issues.

here’s some good news though, today the LA Times said they will start capitalizing B in Black.

ive had two really good days in a row

Sunday was fantastic. i wrote an important email, had a very good phone call, got some laundry done, talked to my mom and had a fantastic heart to heart with Amber.

she has done a lot during this shut down. A LOT.

at first she resisted this thing. massively. she hated it. she’s such a workaholic so to be locked into our little apartment drove her nuts. she worried they wouldnt hire her back. she fretted over everything. she wrote so many emails and called so many people.

plus unemployment was a nightmare. they still havent paid her everything on time.

but then something happened a few weeks ago and she just clicked into the next gear. now shes accepted that shes at the mercy of so many things outside of her control and she’s ok with it, cuz fuck it, they’re gonna do whatever theyre gonna do no matter how many hours she waits on hold for this or that.

in the meantime she visits a half dozen homeless people every day and posts memes on her instagram. Also, she’s learning how to edit video. which i love her for.

today we went to walmart for a $9 can opener. left spending $101.

on the way i interviewed a community organizer from lansing michigan. a black girl who was so honest with me. we bonded beautifully and her idealism was genuinely inspiring.

we could have talked forever but im trying to keep these interviews down to 35 minutes or so because the long ones make me hate life when i have to transcribe them. and with so much happening every day i want to turn these around in a day if i can.

that’s my goal. which is tough. but tough goals are the best.