my birthday week was fantastic, thanks for asking

on the Day itself i drove around the Valley looking for baseball cards

then Chris and Amber took me to deep dish at Ginos East in Studio City

and the crazy part of that was we all had to sit outside because of COVID and these other Chicago transplants were out there too.

it wasnt cold but it wasnt warm. but after a beer or two everyone was chatty and happy and super grateful to be eating Ginos pizza

it tastes the same, though it seemed smaller.

so i met some new friends, we exchanged business cards and lots of smiles.

midwestern people are the greatest.

afterwards i went on Facebook and soooo many people had wished me well. i think 200? what the.

and some of the people said the nicest things. i wanted my mom to read them. i wanted to say, look what theyre saying about your boy!

when i finally opened her gift — there were baseball cards in there! mom came through.

lately ive been trying to trade with people because finding them is so hard and ebay is sorta a ripoff because often the shipping cost more than the cards. so trading is better.

one guy i reached out to through his youtube video was maybe 13? so i didnt want his parents to think i was taking advantage so i arranged a trade that was super lopsided in his favor. and then he kept asking for more and more.

we’ll see if he comes through. i hope so. trading might be the way to go.

then yesterday i had a nice talk with my neighbor and her best friend.

this pandemic is hitting everyone hard. everyone is fighting with their loved ones and spouses and roommates. this one woman was telling me how she cries all the time now because of this and that.

but mostly it comes down to how the government hasnt taken care of the people.

i totally expected that because this was an election year, the GOP would have done a lot more than doled out one measly check a half year ago, but nope.

they’re acting as if rushing to reopen hasn’t led to second and third spikes in many US cities and states.

they act as if the people aren’t super confused by what they see the White House do as opposed to what it says.

meanwhile every week the White House is getting sick. so wtf.

future people, let it be known, our federal government treated this pandemic like a deadbeat dad treats his kids: they ignored it, threw some money at it early on, and then basically pretended that it didnt exist.

meanwhile the kid suffered, got angry… and might be scarred forever.

53 years ago tonight

my mom did the nicest thing anyones ever done

she went through excruciating pain to bring me into this world

when the doctor presented me

he told her, congratulations,

you have a blogger.

the bells of the church rang, pigeons scattered and not far away at the lincoln memorial,

honest abe quietly smiled and wished me to illinois

which is a perfect place to grow up, but

my mom made me cakes, invited my friends over, even sent them home with bags of treats and toys despite it being my birthday, thats just how it was. gift giving. sharing. leading by example.

one of the best gifts my mom ever gave me was patience. for generations our family went to and graduated college. quiet a feat for black families, but then there i was, dragging my feet academically through high school

with no real plan going into senior year other than maybe go to california and maybe go to junior college


it must have driven her crazy. even my friends who had crappier high school grades than i, hustled off to state schools and little colleges around the midwest

and that fall i sorta checked in to a city college, only to have to extend my time there beyond two years because

i couldnt write well.

any other parent, including hypothetical me, would have blown a gasket.

20 years old and cant pass a community college history class?

but she hung in there. “no pressure. you got this. you know youre not a dummy.”

i was reading paradise lost for fun while being an ice cream man

she believed in my weirdness, reluctantly, but she believed, and therefore i did too.

soon i was writing every day, for money, for all to see in the college paper.

winning awards, kissing girls.

all because my mom a million years ago said, fuck it, lets get this negro out


it cost her $200.

which i should write her a check for one day.

heres how you make me so happy

let me drive into the desert after a close Bears game

with you.

lets stop off at Trader Joes for everything that’ll fit in a mini fridge.

it’s almost 5pm? maybe we can get into a 5pm mass after we check in.

because amber works where she does and its connected to this resort, we only have to pay a fraction of the downright reasonable $400 a night stay in whats called a Starlight Castilla.

it’s called that because it’s everything a regular room gets you, plus you have your own staircase that leads to a private outdoor deck that includes a cool couch and even cooler outdoor fireplace.

inside the room is plush, a second fireplace is next to the tv. french windows, carpet, flat screen tv, tile bathroom with a separate shower and bath tub.

outside there are 41 pools and 41 hot tubs. some bigger than others. each just a little stroll away, so lets say a beautiful young woman with tattoos and a frosty margarita slides into your late night dip, you can escape to a nearby empty hot tub because it’s Sunday, not Sinday, Becky.

there are many magical things about the desert. the heat is calming, the wind plays with the fronds of the palm trees, the sky is unblemished blue and then black at night. the stars come out one after another to say happy birthday.

even the lobby of the La Quina Resort smells otherworldly yet somehow familiar. we heard bad things about the mexican restaurant and since neither of us were interested in $20 drinks, we drove and drove towards Palm Springs proper looking for dinner.

thai? maybe, but we live in Thai Town, Chinese? maybe. italian? sure. and as we were at one of the super long stop lights i turned to amber and said, i could go for anything, even a Red Lobster.

we laughed. she put Red Lobster into Waze and it was a block away. so we went for it. endless shrimp? endless yes!

amber is like me, down for pretty much whatever. especially if it is cheesy and probably not the things you “should” do on you 199th birthday. we ate four different kinds of shrimp (regular was the best), devoured those biscuits, ordered sides of broccoli and mashed potatoes, drank pop like kids and ducked out before they could surprise me with a desert and a song.

amber: but but

me: xbi can’t have his spot blown up like that

amber: but

drove home, the hotel had delivered a nice box of chocolate covered pretzels. the hot tubs were used. the deck was used. the fireplace was turned on and janes addiction’s three days oozed from my wireless speaker. we fell asleep to the grateful dead. gratefully.

in the morning we packed and said hi to Coachella, which was surprisingly open, so amber rolled around in the grass and told me the sad tale of when she was last there.

we drove down the freeway back to LA but were starving and i saw these billboards for a vegas style buffet at a nearby casino.

almost went to in n out but amber loves salad and the good thing about buffets are their salad bars.

first we stopped off at the dinosaurs from Pee Wees Big Adventure and went into the brontosaurus gift shop and got some gifts.

then at the casino we met a woman with a tiara that said “it’s my birthday!” i approached her and her daughters (?) and said it’s MY birthday! they said, “she’s 90 today!” i said but IM 90 today!

we took a picture. she was so tiny it was awesome and she did not look 90 at all. so full of life. such a good sign. proof that one should hang out more in casinos. i mean in the desert. i mean with loved ones.

and people who understand the value of subtleties

and down to earth strangers.

i think that resort is my new favorite.

today is my moms birthday, shes 24

momborn to the first black un-official president of canada and a pittsburgh librarian, my mom was raised in southern Georgia during the turbulent 50s and 60s because her parents knew that their power and influence would be better served in the dirty south than in the Steel City.

my mom excelled in school, was the homecoming queen, valentines dance queen, rivals week queen and ultimately the queen of the school after her mother sewed her a sparkling dress made of silk, roses, and dreams.

at 16 years old she went to college after skipping a grade. she had never been away from her parents before and First Day was hosting parties and convincing the young gentlemen of Nashville to buy she and her friends booze, high heels and Motown records. One day she found herself on a bus. she didnt know why she was on the bus, all she knew was she wasnt in Georgia or in class, so… Party! turned out the bus was headed to downtown Nashville where she and her friends would participate in the first Civil Rights protest ever. No Justice, No Peace was penned by the young lady next to her. What Do We Want? Lemonade! was yelled by the thirsty young man a few seats back.

Once at the rally, the state troopers arrived and threatened to kill everyone. My mom ran and made her way back to the dormitory just in time to receive a telephone call from her parents asking how everything was going. Fine! she said and because long distance phone calls cost so much back then she literally got off the hook and decided she would stick to studying and leave the civil protests to the Others.

she graduated early, got a scholarship to Indiana to get a double Masters in Russian and Math because her heart wanted to be a UN translator but her Virgo mind said, lets have a practical backup plan. After she graduated she moved to Washington DC at the bequest of her college sweetie and whattya know she found herself in the midst of more political marches led by, no joke, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. a few years later she was married and produced two children which she raised mostly on her own: one who would become a blogger with a modest following on twitter.

today my mom refuses to retire. she teaches her grandchildren the beauty of books, the hard work it takes to grow a victory garden, and how to keep the most organized books. THIS WILL NOT BE HACKED she says as she shows her paid bills perfectly filed in her walk-in safe in the basement.

her home is meticulous and smells of bacon and potpourri. she collects shot glasses and nativity scenes. she has four tvs and three landline phones. the password of her iphone is 666666 because no one would believe it. she has pictures of several of my old girlfriends on doilies atop a variety of end tables. theres african art, modern art, and college diplomas lining the walls leading to the basement.

she insists i call her after i have had a long flight or emergency assignment from the xbi.

i cant imagine how boring my life would have been without her guidance over these years because her advice has always been the same: fuck shit up, negro. make me proud.

happy birthday mom!

today is kristin’s twenty-fourth birthday,

i wonder what she wants.

i hope she knows she can have anything.

i hope all of you know that.

i knew kristin when she was just nineteen she reminds me. i knew her when she was just starting up madpony with her sister.

now shes (still) a big star in the dirty south, and i still get hits from people searching for her long defunc blog.

shes better than me in so many ways and i dont blame the world.

her life is a real one and its interesting and madpony is just the tip of the iceberg of her accomplishments and im glad ive gotten to know her a little more than than just from her blog.

our oklahoman is super sweet, shes smart, she works hard, shes a great friend, shes a good sister, shes a great daughter, she does pretty much everything right, and she does it in that hot southern accent.

just like the ramones was mostly johnny, madpony was mostly kristin so we probably shouldnt ask for more from her, but it wouldnt suck to get a comeback.

i still dont know enough about sorority girl life, or what its like to go to a game in norman while their team is top rated and their fans are insane.

or what things are like in her town now that they have to take on Connecticut in Zona on new years day where they will probably win.

im glad to learn about shopping and shoes and things like that, but i want even more.

we’re lucky to have what we have, and you must admit, there arent many kristins.

happy birthday baby.

your biggest fan,

the intertubes

if you watch enough “Cops”

you’d think that all black folk are crazy, but you’ll never see a brotha jogging in the snow with no shirt on, or jumping into a swedish ice pond in the winter, or running on a football field as theyre about to kick an extra point. so step.

a new chick came over last night and was talking and talking and talking and i was smiling and smiling and i know im a bastard because all i kept thinking was, when can i kiss her, and if we dont kiss, can she leave so i can play with my newly fixed computer.

im not at all the man i thought i would grow up to be.

sean bonner, who has beautifully redesigned his blog will be turning thirty next month and is stressing.

i unrolled some of my scrolls from the early 20th century when i had celebrated my third decade and the memories came rushing back to me. my notes tell me that i had my girlfriend at the time dress like a harlot and stand at a street corner.

i pulled up to her and asked her how much. she said, for you tony pierce, just $500.

i said, how about for all night? she said, for you, $666. and she climbed in.

we drove to a fancy hotel that i had reserved for the evening.

afterwards we sat in the unused bed and ate chicken right from the bucket until my mobile phone rang. it was my old band. they had reunited just for my special day.

so me and my gal got dressed and i arrived at my home and there were all my friends and there was my old band and i went upstairs to the bathroom and there was a huge Pokey outfit. i slipped into it, put on the head, walked downstairs and rocked out with the band.

afterwards we drove back to the hotel, she dressed up like a different dirty little girl and there was much rejoicing.

i passed out with a thigh in my mouth.

not sure if it was my baby’s or the colonels, but it did have several spices and it was finger licking good.

so sean, may i suggest that you do everything that you can to numb the pain

but also realize that youre younger than you think.

id do anything to go back to that penthouse room many moons ago.

not to mention jam with that band again.

but most of all, enjoy every birthday that you get to celebrate.

zulieka + welchie + sk smith