in the days of chimpanzees

it’s taking me forever to write things during this pandemic.
can i blame it?

am i getting old? have i lost it? is this it?

beck turned 50 yesterday.

this blue eyed child who when he was introduced via my SPIN magazine subscription he looked like a schoolboy.

how is he 50?

how does anything survive and not just bob in the water but

live?

i dont wanna just sit there and let the waves rock me around

a victim of the tides and the winds

i wanna be part of the current.

i wanna say we’re going this way.

i wanna say we’re not going that way.

beck didnt wanna whiteboy rap anymore so he didnt have to.

i have so much control over what i write and still

today every sentence was a struggle.

everything.

and i know what it was, i was trying to make it

you cant try and it wont make it.

its gonna be it no matter how much you futz with it.

i think it was shakespeare who said writing is like taking a dump, you can’t force it, you can’t will it

you just have to eat right, act right and marvel when it arrives fully formed and solid.

tennyson mighta said that, actually.

amber and i had our sixth anniversary from the first time we kissed today.

time flies when yr staring at the sun.

10 things i wrote in June for Los Angeleno


it’s funny. i dont think i write much. i dont think i write as well as i used to. i dont think theres any magic in my makeup. when i look in the mirror i dont see the man i thought i would be.

then something happens. then something gets popular. and i think i still got it.

which is ridiculous because who cares if the public responds? who cares if the right people at the right time click the retweet button? did that make what i wrote any better? shouldnt i just judge myself with my heart?

shouldnt i just say, i wouldnta published it if i didnt think it was good?

i have never cared about people’s approval. why start now? because im not 21 any more? because im not getting 100s of comments on shit anymore? trust me, in 2020 if youre getting 100s of comments on something it’s probably bad news.

last month i was in DEEP on the Rona beat. then i had to also do the BLM beat. it was a lot. it kept me from features and Q&As which is why this month i’ve been asked to lay off the roundups and focus more on original things.

this week imma write about baseball and swimming pools. but best laid plans… who knows i might meet the coolest Somebody and talk to them for an hour and write it all up and dole it all out. thats why i love Los Angeleno.

15 Epic Moments From LAPD’s Police Commission Zoom Meeting

 

Skip the Lines and Get Tested for COVID-19 at Home

 

LA is burning about 20 miles north

maybe 15, who knows. but i can smell it and my nose is irritated so ive been blowing it

its sorta too bad i wasn’t a dad because i can tell

easily

if someone had been smoking in a house. perfectly.

YOU GIRLS COME DOWN HERE RIGHT THIS MINUTE

what daaaaaaaad? 

I’m going to smell your fingers! Someone has been smoking?

OMG gross much? Geeze! 

Oh I’ll show you gross, young lady. I’ve got a half a bean burrito in me itching to fumigate this villa. Now tell me who has been smoking!

this week i was a busy body. and all of it made me feel so thankful that i was raised by a woman who was not mentally ill or violent or crazy or mean.

i interviewed an amazing doctor who taught me about violent criminals whose psychosis was triggered by this or that. we talked about the Joker movie and how she would have treated him. we talked about Kanye and Britney and racism and DNA and the holocaust

and it was all the things i always wanted to do at the previous gigs but for some reason i was not trusted or the bosses felt weird or… whatever. it never happened and now it is and i feel so liberated and vindicated because these stories are being so well received and i wanna rent a hot air balloon that says Told Ya on it, and shower the globe with marshmallows.

why those? who knows. who cares. cuz it would be funny. and it wouldnt hurt anyone. just like me.

then i did a bunch of editing and researching for stuff coming down the pike.

then yesterday i went to Compton and Inglewood and ALSO did stuff ive been dying to do: talk to THE CENTER of LA about something of global importance: the impeachment of the POTUS.

and when you pitch ideas in the real world, so often they are shot down before you can get out of the room. “come on tony, what do you Think those people are gonna say?”

we dont know. we never know. did we think Reagan would trade arms for hostages? did we think Bush 1 would puke at a dinner? did we think Clinton would turn a giant deficit into a giant surplus? did we think the GOP would be totally cool with a US president being super chummy with the Russians? did we think a bunch of GOP senators would fly to Russia on the 4th of July and come back and lie about it?

if people are anything they’re unpredictable AF. which is why i love them. which is why i ask them the most basic questions and often i am rewarded with surprising answers.

just like i was treated to in Compton and Inglewood where a young black lady said she thinks Trump is bad but Pence would be worse, so no. And an old black man said he likes Trump for a variety of reasons but he cant get too into it because his gf would get pissed at him. which is REAL, grampa!

 

omg im so happy

worked so hard. did the things in the daytime. did some phone things.

was able to walk around the neighborhood during some of the phone things cuz i gotta get in my steps.

still had time to procrastinate a good deal before i finished the last 2/3rds of my super giant piece. the longest, most epic piece about a chicken sandwich that you’ll ever see, but i finished it, i learned how to get into the CMS, i put it in there, hit draft and

could not believe that it was done, and it was funny, and it was real and it was me me me.

the first thing i did there was fun and punny and sorta great. but then i struggled, which hurt my confidence and slowed me down on this one. i have limited attention span for these things. i wanna talk to the people, get it down and go on to the next thing. if i feel bored with it then thats what will come out.

but this puppy. once i got going again tonight. once i turned off facebook and trump and blocked out all the distractions, good shit happened. and i was laughing. i totally forgot that i laugh when i write. had it been that long?

the key, for me, at least, is talk to lots of people and ask all the questions. and laugh during that part too.

i am so blessed to be doing this. especially now. particularly with and for these people.

God is good.

what have i been doing?

gurrrrl ive been working working working.

thats the thing, give a man a fish he will eat for a day, let a man run his own fishing boat he will fish all day and night

and think of ideas and talk to people and write and talk and write and scheme and plot and plan and not sleep and not eat and talk and figure out

and parts of his brain that havent been loved in sooo sooo long will emit clouds of smoke and gears will turn and things will go slowly at first but damnit if this machine wasnt ready for this, if i wasnt built for this

if i wasnt born this way.

and baby im telling you right here right now, i was meant to do the job that i am doing right now and the only thing slowing me down is some outside forces which will be cleared up super soon

and then the rock will begin.

because it’s about writing though there needs to be a bit of structure and thats coming too. in part is the lesson i learned at UCSB which was “when it’s light out, study, when it’s dark out party.”

i need to write in the daytime now and study at night because my body has changed. my magic is in the AM and i get so distracted at night. maybe this is because i was sitting on the bench for half of this year turning into mush?

maybe it’s because i havent written news and features in far too long. FIVE YEARS david bowie i was doing basically PR, trying to do news but being nudged into a different place.

remember in Moneyball when Brad Pitt wanted Scott Hattenberg to play first base and they asked the dude, hey its easy to play first and the dude said, it’s actually incredibly difficult. writing news is not as easy as it seems. but i can do it. and i have the freedom to do it the way i want. which is priceless. a dream come true. and i thank the Lord above for this blessing. and just wait what i do with it.

speaking of the pretty boy. i fell asleep in an afternoon matinee of the new Brad Pitt movie because i was so tired. i see why people do cocaine now. but id never do that for a few reasons. death. expense. and the last thing i wanna hear from St. Peter is come on dude.

 

how would you describe your writing style

yesterday i had my second job interview. unlike the first, this was in person.

even though i generally feel comfortable talking with people, i don’t like wearing a suit (because I think it’s a lie), and i would feel very awkward being forced to bad mouth any of my previous experiences. everywhere ive worked, people are just trying to make the best decisions given the options in front of them.

so driving over there i was like an hour and a half early. i walked around an old Staples store which had the worst energy. the two dudes working behind the counter were slow and had difficulty keeping eye contact with who they were speaking to. many of the shelves were either empty or lacking.

there was no one to give any help in the copy machine or computer area. the computers, btw, are infamous for earning more than the employees.

and the parking lot was packed.

lets just say i was glad i wasnt interviewing to work there.

when i got to the place i was all dressed up for, i was asked some questions that i hadn’t expected at all. which is good. i like being pleasantly surprised.

one of the questions was, how would you describe your writing style (the job was a writing gig)

my first thought was: if charles bukowski wasnt a drunk, was black, and went to uc santa barbara.

but i didnt say that because it would have broken my mothers heart.

dear nephew, after that devastating bears loss

dear tyler,

what a game that was. what a beautiful and terrible game.

nobody will tell you this because nobody is like your uncle tony. but heres the secret about being a bears fan, that’s different than being a cub fan.

and i can say this because ive been a huge fan of both teams for a very long time. how long? let me just say: i watched bears game on a NEW black & white tv that your grandma bought.

i bet youve never even seen a black n white tv. and for that alone you should be happy.

anyways heres the secret about the bears: they are going to break your heart more often and more painfully than the Cubs ever will.

the thing about the Cubs is they’re the lovable losers. even this season they lost and we loved them. but the Bears, for some reason, always gets our hopes up. they always have players who are so outstanding that you think, oh shit they can and SHOULD win this game.

and they get you right up to the end and they stab you in the heart.

then they get your heart and put it in a pie and put the pie in a box of money, the biggest box youve ever seen, and they give that box of money to jackasses like jay cutler or kickers named cody.

so heres what you need to do. you need to use that feeling inside of you and put it to good use.

i dont know about you, but heres how im feeling: like fucking shit.

but fret not, because shit is in this world for a good reason. you think im kidding but im not. ask your grandma. shit is extremely valuable for growing the most beautiful things in the world. green grass and pretty flowers. in fact the best shit cost money and people seek it out because the better the shit the bigger and more colorful the beauty.

and this is why wrigley field is the most gorgeous place in the world.

so use that shittiness that you feel. use it to make beauty. get your dads keyboards and hook up your headphones to it and play. so many beautiful songs have been based on sadness. i would never lie to you.

either the songs were made from the shittiness of the pianist’s life, or that crappy feeling drove that person to learn to play as a means for escape or a way for them to express themselves other than doing what they really wanted to do like take a giant torch to the entire city and start over.

now uncle tony wasn’t very good at the piano, or the saxaphone or the drums, but when i was in high school we had a dog who died. Chumbi. old Chumbi wasn’t crazy about me and i wasn’t nuts about him neither but when he died i was super sad. so i went down in the basement and i beat the crap out of those drums. for an hour i was the greatest drummer in the world.

and when it was over i learned a valuable lesson. that i should stick to writing.

which is my final bit of unasked for advice. turn that shitty feeling inside into words. if you dont wanna show anyone, fine. fuck em. just write. write and write and write. write truthfully, write a bunch of lies, write a cool combo of the two, but get the poison out. turn it into something that never existed before. use that shit to grow something excellent.

you might suck at first but keep going. everyone sucks at first.

cody the kicker should have practiced more too.

dont grow up and be like him.

practice.

i love you very much. next year they’ll break our hearts in new ways. so we got that going for us.

your uncle,

tony

theres two ways to write

the first is you can pretend that the whole world is going to pay attention to what you are saying

and they will change their minds when they read your incredible insights

and rainbows will appear and bunnies and butterflies and fireworks and the cubs will win the world series

that is not how i write.

the other way is to pretend that nobody will ever read it and there is no audience and it’s just you

and the Good Lord above and all of the angels and saints

and they’re probably too busy to look closely, they are just happy youre not out in the streets.

occasionally someone reads it and i am genuinely surprised because i have tricked myself into believing that not even the sweet angels who root me on will read it

and sometimes someone will ask me, why are you being so mean with your writing

and i will literally have to read it again because when i write i just let it out and commit zero of it to memory.

but then i will reread the masterpiece in question and i will usually surmise “you call that mean?”

heres what i think mean is. i think its mean to bore your readers.

i had a teacher in college once, and he was legendary in our school, which doesnt mean he liked me, im pretty sure he thought i was overrated and to be honest i dont remember ever writing anything great in his classes

but i did like one thing he said. he said the worst thing you can do to your readers is waste their time.

do not bore them.

thus, if i criticize a writer for doing the worst thing a scribe can do, that is not mean.

whats mean is not passing along the sentiment and working with that writer, despite how veteran he may be

despite how many stupid awards he has “won” and despite what emails come in or dont come in.

whats mean is letting someone who you know or work with or are close to slide into mediocrity.

we are all in this together.

some of us more than others.

dig deep and get it together.

it’s been a stressful week and it’s all my fault

when you’re a writer, an editor, or someone like me who pretends to be those things, you find yourself making work for yourself.

you see something or you think of something and you say, “that thing oughtta be written about.”

but that means you have to research it, talk to people, watch things, learn things, talk to more people, read and read and read and then finally write.

as if the writing is the easiest part. IT’S ACTUALLY THE HARDEST.

then you have to edit and if you’re lucky you get to watch someone else edit it. and if you’re super luck two people will edit it. and then you collect all that sweet sweet praise on twitter.

the other day i interviewed a very very smart man and i asked some very dumb questions. because i am not smart. the good thing is the smart people Still have to answer your questions and when they do smarter things pop up.

and if you can sit down with them long enough you will eek a smart question out and they will smile and amaze you with their brilliant answer and that will be the centerpiece of your story or it will be completely over looked by the audience who just came there for the pictures, but who cares you got paid and now you can go on to your next assignment which will be harder, scarier, and if you’re unlucky someone else has assigned it so now you gotta do their thing.

it’s always better when it’s your thing but it’s also very hard. it’s like college and high school never ended. research, write an essay, hear the feedback, scribble in your Trapper Keeper, repeat.

right now i have finished my first draft of what i wanna send to my editor. it’s good. it’s not great. and this was my scribbling into my folder. but time is money so hi bye.