This page has moved to a new address.

Candy and Cigarettes

body { background:#aba; margin:0; padding:20px 10px; text-align:center; font:x-small/1.5em "Trebuchet MS",Verdana,Arial,Sans-serif; color:#333; font-size/* */:/**/small; font-size: /**/small; } /* Page Structure ----------------------------------------------- */ /* The images which help create rounded corners depend on the following widths and measurements. If you want to change these measurements, the images will also need to change. */ @media all { #content { width:740px; margin:0 auto; text-align:left; } #main { width:485px; float:left; background:#fff url("") no-repeat left bottom; margin:15px 0 0; padding:0 0 10px; color:#000; font-size:97%; line-height:1.5em; } #main2 { float:left; width:100%; background:url("") no-repeat left top; padding:10px 0 0; } #main3 { background:url("") repeat-y; padding:0; } #sidebar { width:240px; float:right; margin:15px 0 0; font-size:97%; line-height:1.5em; } } @media handheld { #content { width:90%; } #main { width:100%; float:none; background:#fff; } #main2 { float:none; background:none; } #main3 { background:none; padding:0; } #sidebar { width:100%; float:none; } } /* Links ----------------------------------------------- */ a:link { color:#258; } a:visited { color:#666; } a:hover { color:#c63; } a img { border-width:0; } /* Blog Header ----------------------------------------------- */ @media all { #header { background:#456 url("") no-repeat left top; margin:0 0 0; padding:8px 0 0; color:#fff; } #header div { background:url("") no-repeat left bottom; padding:0 15px 8px; } } @media handheld { #header { background:#456; } #header div { background:none; } } #blog-title { margin:0; padding:10px 30px 5px; font-size:200%; line-height:1.2em; } #blog-title a { text-decoration:none; color:#fff; } #description { margin:0; padding:5px 30px 10px; font-size:94%; line-height:1.5em; } /* Posts ----------------------------------------------- */ .date-header { margin:0 28px 0 43px; font-size:85%; line-height:2em; text-transform:uppercase; letter-spacing:.2em; color:#357; } .post { margin:.3em 0 25px; padding:0 13px; border:1px dotted #bbb; border-width:1px 0; } .post-title { margin:0; font-size:135%; line-height:1.5em; background:url("") no-repeat 10px .5em; display:block; border:1px dotted #bbb; border-width:0 1px 1px; padding:2px 14px 2px 29px; color:#333; } a.title-link, .post-title strong { text-decoration:none; display:block; } a.title-link:hover { background-color:#ded; color:#000; } .post-body { border:1px dotted #bbb; border-width:0 1px 1px; border-bottom-color:#fff; padding:10px 14px 1px 29px; } html>body .post-body { border-bottom-width:0; } .post p { margin:0 0 .75em; } { background:#ded; margin:0; padding:2px 14px 2px 29px; border:1px dotted #bbb; border-width:1px; border-bottom:1px solid #eee; font-size:100%; line-height:1.5em; color:#666; text-align:right; } html>body { border-bottom-color:transparent; } em { display:block; float:left; text-align:left; font-style:normal; } a.comment-link { /* IE5.0/Win doesn't apply padding to inline elements, so we hide these two declarations from it */ background/* */:/**/url("") no-repeat 0 45%; padding-left:14px; } html>body a.comment-link { /* Respecified, for IE5/Mac's benefit */ background:url("") no-repeat 0 45%; padding-left:14px; } .post img { margin:0 0 5px 0; padding:4px; border:1px solid #ccc; } blockquote { margin:.75em 0; border:1px dotted #ccc; border-width:1px 0; padding:5px 15px; color:#666; } .post blockquote p { margin:.5em 0; } /* Comments ----------------------------------------------- */ #comments { margin:-25px 13px 0; border:1px dotted #ccc; border-width:0 1px 1px; padding:20px 0 15px 0; } #comments h4 { margin:0 0 10px; padding:0 14px 2px 29px; border-bottom:1px dotted #ccc; font-size:120%; line-height:1.4em; color:#333; } #comments-block { margin:0 15px 0 9px; } .comment-data { background:url("") no-repeat 2px .3em; margin:.5em 0; padding:0 0 0 20px; color:#666; } .comment-poster { font-weight:bold; } .comment-body { margin:0 0 1.25em; padding:0 0 0 20px; } .comment-body p { margin:0 0 .5em; } .comment-timestamp { margin:0 0 .5em; padding:0 0 .75em 20px; color:#666; } .comment-timestamp a:link { color:#666; } .deleted-comment { font-style:italic; color:gray; } .paging-control-container { float: right; margin: 0px 6px 0px 0px; font-size: 80%; } .unneeded-paging-control { visibility: hidden; } /* Profile ----------------------------------------------- */ @media all { #profile-container { background:#cdc url("") no-repeat left bottom; margin:0 0 15px; padding:0 0 10px; color:#345; } #profile-container h2 { background:url("") no-repeat left top; padding:10px 15px .2em; margin:0; border-width:0; font-size:115%; line-height:1.5em; color:#234; } } @media handheld { #profile-container { background:#cdc; } #profile-container h2 { background:none; } } .profile-datablock { margin:0 15px .5em; border-top:1px dotted #aba; padding-top:8px; } .profile-img {display:inline;} .profile-img img { float:left; margin:0 10px 5px 0; border:4px solid #fff; } .profile-data strong { display:block; } #profile-container p { margin:0 15px .5em; } #profile-container .profile-textblock { clear:left; } #profile-container a { color:#258; } .profile-link a { background:url("") no-repeat 0 .1em; padding-left:15px; font-weight:bold; } ul.profile-datablock { list-style-type:none; } /* Sidebar Boxes ----------------------------------------------- */ @media all { .box { background:#fff url("") no-repeat left top; margin:0 0 15px; padding:10px 0 0; color:#666; } .box2 { background:url("") no-repeat left bottom; padding:0 13px 8px; } } @media handheld { .box { background:#fff; } .box2 { background:none; } } .sidebar-title { margin:0; padding:0 0 .2em; border-bottom:1px dotted #9b9; font-size:115%; line-height:1.5em; color:#333; } .box ul { margin:.5em 0 1.25em; padding:0 0px; list-style:none; } .box ul li { background:url("") no-repeat 2px .25em; margin:0; padding:0 0 3px 16px; margin-bottom:3px; border-bottom:1px dotted #eee; line-height:1.4em; } .box p { margin:0 0 .6em; } /* Footer ----------------------------------------------- */ #footer { clear:both; margin:0; padding:15px 0 0; } @media all { #footer div { background:#456 url("") no-repeat left top; padding:8px 0 0; color:#fff; } #footer div div { background:url("") no-repeat left bottom; padding:0 15px 8px; } } @media handheld { #footer div { background:#456; } #footer div div { background:none; } } #footer hr {display:none;} #footer p {margin:0;} #footer a {color:#fff;} /* Feeds ----------------------------------------------- */ #blogfeeds { } #postfeeds { padding:0 15px 0; }

Friday, July 29, 2011

Creeping Charlies Reunion

There's a lot of Joe-related news these days on the artistic front.  We're putting together a string of Lip Service West readings, including our participation in this year's Litquake festival in the city; publishing stories in middling e-journals at an alarming clip, about to assault the upper tier of print lit mags; in discussions with the networks about developing a pilot; looking for a new drummer for the Wandering Jews so we can get back in the studio and follow up our smash EP, Down on the Farm; and as always we are trying like hell to get our books published.  But perhaps the most interesting tidbit o' nugget comes from Barry B., who writes,

Joe, how much would it cost to get the Creeping Charlies back together to play at my company's offsite (we'd rent a house for half a dozen folks and their families, either Aug 19th or 20th)...?

A little context.  The Creeping Charlies was my band from 1992(ish) to 1995(ish), and I say "ish," because I can't fucking remember much from those days, except it coincided with the start of my drug problem, which progressed as the band did, and that we had one fan, Barry B.  

That might be a bit of an overstatement.  We were, after all, the house band for Hanno's, a seedy little joint in an alley in SOMA.  The Charlies were an oddity in my musical...journey(?), further clouded by the drugs and the mental problems, and the fact that I was in my early 20's, which after a lifetime of violent ups and downs, I can honestly say saw the most.  I had just moved 3,000 miles, was on my own, full of hate and piss and hellbent on crashing, burning, self-destructing, and all those good rock 'n' roll cliches.  Under it all, of course--the abrasiveness and malcontent, the bravado and declaration to drink life to the lees--was just a scared, fucked-up little suburban farmboy from CT, who was too hardheaded, broken, and, yes, stupid, to follow the clearly lit path.  Or in other words, I was slow to grow up.  

My life has followed pretty accurately this quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald:

"The easiest way to get a reputation is go outside the fold, shout around for a few years as a violent atheist or a dangerous radical, and then crawl back to the shelter."

With less emphasis on the "dangerous" part and more on the "crawling," but that's quibbling, isn't it?

Anyway, the Creeping Charlies were in the midst of all this.  I sang, and the band was Dan on guitar, Matt on bass, and Gina on drums (later replaced by Da Weaz).  We recording a couple demos, Shot with a Chaser and I can't fucking remember.  Oh, yeah.  La Tristessa Durea.  I think that's how you spell it.  I'm too fucking lazy to Google it.  The never-ending sadness.  Which was Van Gogh's last words.  And, yes, I was the sort of lyricist who would quote the dying words of artists.

We weren't that bad, really.  We had moments where we were quite good.  Dan was (is) a terrific pop song writer (he shares a writing credit on the Counting Crows' "'Round Here"), and Matt was cut from the Kim Deal cloth of bassery, and Gina (when she wasn't discouraged) could do things on drums I never heard before or since (in a good shuffling dancing sort of way).  The problem was, by and large, that I tried to do way more than I can as a vocalist, going higher and higher, stretching the tenets of key.  The band was ultimately a series of square pegs, each member trying to fit into a different round hole. Dan and I had different ideas of what pop meant.  He was more Talking Heads.  I was Springsteen.  

There's a really cool live thing we did called "The Piano Sessions" that Dan might still have, and it's the one time I remember all these odd little elements and parts coming together.  

Anyway, like a crappy VH1 show, we're been asked to reunite.  

I am signing the cassette cover.  Dan?  Matt?  Gina?  

Although we might have to play the songs in a lower key.  I can't even try to hit some of those notes.  I'm a father now.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Rock 'n' Rollercoaster

Checking my various social networking sites this morning, I found this on Twitter (yes, I have a mutherfucking Twitter account):  You should read it.  It's hilarious shit by this guy Chuck Wendig, who admittedly I've never read.  But after this one piece, I will certainly read more.  For those of you too lazy to at least click on the link, Wendig is attempting to save the floundering writing profession by having writers, who tend to be dull, stick-in-the-mud types, adopt some of the flamboyance and debauchery of their rock 'n' roll counterparts. Mostly by acting like assholes and peeing on shit.  I couldn't agree with him more. Obviously, Wendig's having fun with this; I don't think he's serious about the dwarves or the "walrus latex dong" fighting.  But I get the sentiment.  I pride myself on being a rock 'n' roll writer.  The problem with the writing profession is that people have to champion Infinite Jest over Stephen King (or, yes, Nicholas Sparks) lest they be labeled lowbrow and ineffectual.  I don't like Sparks, but I do King. More than both, I fucking hate Infinite Jest, and, like Groucho, don't want to be part of that club.

And what's not to love about rock 'n' roll?  It's abrasive, fucked up, in your face and defiant.  Except when you're 40.  Which I am.  And your drummer has decided he needs to cut rock 'n' roll out of his life.  Again.  And you're, once again, having to put out feelers to see if anyone wants (man).

It's fucked up.  When you're 18, man, you tell everyone you're in a band.  The girl in your art history class (Amy [sigh]).  You're neighbor's mom.  The fat lady checking out your groceries at the Super Food Mart.  Because playing in a band is cool.  You take band photos and jam in Joe's garage (basement), and you write shit on the walls about your rock 'n' roll domination, and you write songs that lean way too heavily on bad poetry, but you only know two chords (I am up to almost five now), and no matter how hard you try otherwise, your immaturity comes through. The band hangs together after practice.  You play shows, and then go to Denny's, because it's the only place that's still open and you don't want the night to end.  You promote the fuck out of yourself. You make flyers. You record demos. You put your demos and flyers together in a package and send them to strangers. You sit at all-night diners throwing out band name after band name, and it's fun. You can stay awake all night without any drug other than naturally produced hormones and soda.

But now, at this age?  The band ain't hanging out after a show.  Fuck, man, I need to get back to the kid and get some sleep.  Yeah, I still play rock 'n' roll, but I'm not proud of it.  And I'm certainly not broadcasting it to strangers (except here.  And you're not all strangers.  You're my...friends [aw]).  The difference between rock 'n' roll and writing: I can get sixty people to show up for a reading.  A show?  Who the fuck wants to hear someone else's band?  It's like this Onion article:,17804/.

There's something terribly invasive about unfamiliar music.  Fuck, there are about four, five bands I'd willingly see on the entire fucking planet.  I like U2 fine, but I'm not going to their show, even if it's free.  And there are thousands of bands like that for me, and these are good bands, popular, well-respected bands, on the big stage. A little club?  On a Wednesday night?  Loud songs I've never heard?  I'd rather stay home and watch Glee.  And I fucking hate Glee.

So I'm torn.  Gotta find a new drummer.  'Cause I have to keep playing.  Because it's what I do.  It's been in my blood since I was 18, and I'm hooked, and nothing beats that feeling of four (or five) guys on a stage and getting it right.  Writing is more credible, sure, and if I am to attain any degree of professional success, that is probably where it'll be.  But rock 'n' roll is a fucklot more fun.  It'd be great, like Wendig says, to combine the two, the best of both worlds, a profession where you were dependent on no one but yourself and your own ability to produce, and as soon as that is hailed as universally brilliant, you then get to carry on like a complete ass, breaking shit and idolized by 18-year-old girls with big boobies and tight tee shirts.  It'd be nice to be an astronaut too.

But instead, at 40, I will once again be scouring craiglist so I can bug friends to come out on a Wednesday night (in exchange for promising to do the same for their band), as I continue on this legitimate literary path.  Or in the words of the 'Mats: one foot in the door, the other one in the gutter.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Stepping Off

So my old friend Jim Dinda came up from LA with his family this past weekend. While my lack of enthusiasm for social interaction is well known, I have to say it was one of the best visits I've had in a while.  It gave me serious pause to think about...stuff.  I will dispense that  And again we link

only this time for the line, "Work hard to bridge gap in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you are going to need the people who knew you when you were young."

Like I, Jim has been living in California since shortly after high school.  We grew up together, in the same neighborhood, 3,000 miles away, a little Connecticut suburb called Berlin (but not pronounced like German city; doing so will only earn you scorn from its residents).  Growing up, I had a love/hate relationship with Berlin, light (to the point of non-existence) on the former, heavy on the latter.  I couldn't wait to get out of there.  I blamed that town for all my problems.  Of course it wasn't responsible for all my problems, and when I made it to San Francisco, I found that out, the hard and fast way.

Back before "the crash," around '92 or so, I had been in SF for a few months, working in a print shop and already starting to fall apart, an on again/off again unfaithful girlfriend, drinking too much, cracking from the pressure.  Conversely, Jim was finishing up his degree at Cal, or had already received it, living in the Lower Haight.  I think my mother told me he was living out here.  Or maybe his mom told him.  Anyway, one of us called the other and we made plans to meet for a drink.

You don't get too many points of clear delineation like this, moments so neatly etched in memory's timeline, where you can collect and add up the missed chances that led to your ruin.  You never get to know that at the time though, do you?

Once we'd hit high school, Jim and I weren't as good of friends as we'd been at 10, playing baseball in the wide open fields behind Metacomet, with Tab and Mike and Tommy, because high school starts the separation process.  Jim had always been smart.  Me?  More like...misguided, hardheaded, and angry.

The night we met for a drink in the Lower Haight, I complained non-stop, bitched and moaned more than usual, and I did it without any humor.  Usually, if I'm subjecting someone to my normal routine, it's infused with wit and clever turns of phrase.  Not this night.  Jim probably hadn't seen me in four, five years, and here he'd just wanted to meet for a drink, and I was a mess.  I was falling apart.  Within a couple years, I'd be heavily into drugs, unemployed, and losing everything.  I don't think I saw him again before he moved to LA.  I know I called him to tell him I was doing better, and that he said that was good to hear, but I don't think we ever got together in SF.

When I reminded Jim of this story this past weekend, he had no recollection of it.

Which isn't surprising, since for him it was probably just one of many nights where you meet a friend for a beer and it kinda sucks.  But for me, it was a definitive rung on that steep ladder down, so it stuck, another opportunity I had to step off that I didn't take.


Jim is engaged to a yoga instructor named Mollie (who Holden flirted with unmercifully, and who as a fan of Breaking Bad obviously has impeccable taste in art), who I'd actually met with Jim at our 20th High School Reunion a couple years ago.  There was a time when I would've considered my attendance at such an event laughable.  But that was a fun night, getting to see everyone I went to school with, even the people I hadn't known or particularly liked back then.  Like the town itself, I'd come to realize that the problem hadn't been with everyone else, but rather with me.

And now we're all grown-ups, having dinner parties and vacationing with the family, being good role models to the younger generation and buying houses with secure positions in society.  Friends like Jim have been there all along.  I'm just glad they waited long enough for me to get here too.

Monday, July 25, 2011

10 Erroneous Points about Sex or Redbook Is Full of Shit

A few years ago, one of my jackass friends thought it would be funny to sign me up for Cosmopolitan.  I'd of course seen the magazine before, or one of its countless incarnations, Glamour, Redbook, et al, and I might've even flipped through it while waiting at my doctor's or something.  But the joke was on him. Because when Cosmo started arriving once a month and I started reading the damn thing (most likely on the crapper), I soon discovered I loved the thing. For one, it made me more empathetic with the plight of women.  I mean, seriously, you can see why so many of them are sorta nuts.  The mixed messages in Cosmo are hilarious.  You've got all these "love your body" articles, "15 Reasons Why Every Body Is Beautiful" or "Gyno No Nos: Saying No To Plastic Surgery," this real embrace-who-you-are edict, and then on the very next page there's a picture of some emaciated waif with the body of a teenage boy and perfectly formed tits, all pouty, being ogled by men as she hocks some perfume called Desire or Reckless Abandon or whatever, and I'm thinking, fuck, if I was a girl, struggling with how I look, the last thing I should be reading is Cosmo. Which reminds me of this song

and the line, "do not read beauty magazines; they will only make you feel ugly." Point is, since this jackass friend (and, no, I never found out who, though I have my suspicions) signed me up for Cosmo, I can't get enough of the damn things.  They are so many degrees of wrong, so fucked up, the advice they espouse to women so off base and misguided, they've become fascinating relationship train wrecks. 

But the best part of these magazines is when they take a break from having women filling women's heads with lofty, unachievable romantic/lifestyle goals and have some dude supposedly write from the guy's perspective.  It's always some douche who's going to keep it real for the ladies by telling them what the men out there really think about stuff like sex and dating, and it is rarely what guys really think about anything, least of all sex, and never have I found a more laughable, piece-of-shit article than this one I just read in Redbook called

What He Secretly Doesn't Want in Bed

The author is some guy named Aaron, and he's probably a nice enough guy in real life.  I mean, I'll never meet him, but if I did we might be able to go bowling or talk at a BBQ.  He's bald, short, but he's got a family and kids, and he's probably only doing his job, which is spoon fed (or at the very least strongly suggested by an editorial board), so I don't want to attack the guy personally. But it's hard not to.  Because there is no fucking way he could actually believe what he is writing, or we're not of the same species.  I mean, the one job a writer has is to be honest, write from the heart and all that crap, right?  I can listen to some fanatical lunatic fringe-type spouting politics I don't agree with if it's at least sincere, however misguided, but if you're completely full of shit, what am I supposed to do with that?

Aaron has a regular column in Redbook called "Whys Guy," where he tackles hard-hitting issues in the battle of the sexes with a humorous bent.  This month, he attempts to set the record straight about what guys really like in bed.  

No shit, this is his list.  Remember: these are things men supposedly don't like.

1.) Aggressive Sexy Lingerie
2.) Role Playing
3.) Watching Porn
4.) Making Homemade Porn
5.) The A-word
6.) Threesomes
7.) Bondage

Before the article actually starts there's a subheading, something, like, "If you're guy is like Aaron, he doesn't want anything of these [dirty] things; he just wants a big sweet helping of you."


This article is so fucking off base and morally offensive, let's take it one by one. Remember, again, these are things that, according to Aaron, men don't like.

1.) Aggressive Sexy Lingerie.  I don't where Aaron's wife shops or what she looks like or what kind of problems he has with zippers, but what fucking guy is ever disappointed with lingerie, especially "aggressively sexy" lingerie? Everything tight and pushed up, silky and shiny, breasteses all up in your face? You'd rather have, what?  Flannel pajamas?  A muumuu?  A barrel and suspenders?  How can lingerie ever ruin anything?  It's like salt, free money, or little monkeys dressed like butlers: it only makes stuff better.

And, trust me, this point is as good as he gets.

2.)  Role-playing.  I don't care if it's Mistress Ramona or Mexican Apple Thief, having your woman hot enough that she wants to play make-believe before you get it on is fucking hot.  

Whether it's the first date or you're ten years into a stagnant relationship, if you walk in and find your girl dressed in latex and stilettos holding a pair of handcuffs, are seriously going to tell me "it's hard to get in the mood"?, as Aaron contends.  He writes that it makes him "feel ridiculous" if he's pretending to be a European football star or an evil clown, and I hear him about the clown, because clowns are fucked up, but half of the fun of this stuff is about getting the other person turned on enough that she wants to play dress up, so if she's getting hot and bothered with the thought of banging an evil clown, then you get hot and bothered knowing she's getting off.

3.) Watching Porn During Sex.  Really?  Given the choice, you'd prefer not to watch porn?  Your girl says, Let's watch hot people having sex while we do it, and you're going to say, "No, no thanks, I'd rather not.  Oh, look, Golden Girls."  Yeah, porn's a terrible turn off.  Hot chicks writhing and sweaty, their long legs intertwined, locked, hips thrusting, the moaning and talking dirty--like a cold shower and thinking of nuns and dead kittens, a total killjoy.

4.)  Making Homemade Porn.  I almost want to agree with Aaron here.  I mean, you make a homemade porn video, you are sort of a jackass, because it's been statistically proven that there is a 97% chance that, at some point, somebody you don't want seeing your nasty bits is going to see them; and considering most relationships fall apart and half of all marriages end in divorce and people are overall pretty shitty (not to mention petty and vindictive when they feel wronged), the best you can hope for in this scenario is that you are A.) not famous and don't have TMZ bidding for the rights, and B.) it's only her girlfriends who laugh at your lack of rhythm and/or muscle tone (but that wouldn't happen to me; I am ripped).  Still...  If a girl wants to make a porno with you?  Pretty goddamn hot.  Maybe you set the camera up but take out the battery, I don't know.  But you certainly aren't disgusted by the idea.  

5.) The A Word.  Because apparently Redbook doesn't let you say "anal." Aaron's argument here is that since he finds it "unpleasant," he can only imagine "how it feels to you."  How sweet.  Seriously, I don't give a fuck who does what to whom.  It's your bedroom.  You can figure that out.  I'm not saying this is every guy's thing, or that it's my thing, just that it's at least some guy's thing.  So don't pretend when the light's go off it's not in the big sexual playbook.  It's a punchline on Family Guy for crissakes (and here would be a great place for a FG link but I can't find it).

6.) Threesomes.   Now this is every guy's thing.  I've been trying to make this happen most of my life, often to disastrous results (once I was asked to leave while they continued alone; and then there was the...seizure incident of '93).  If your girl comes home with another girl and asks you to please fuck them both--it is the Greatest.  Day.  Of.  Your.  Life.   To his credit, Aaron at least admits this, making a joke about how he can't multitask, and it's a mildly funny joke. But it's also a boldface lie.  There are maybe four guys who don't want a threesome.  Three of them are dead, and the other guy, Rodney, works at the caveman/dinosaur exhibit at the Creation Museum in Kansas.

7.)  Bondage.  Maybe some guys don't like this.  Maybe some girls don't.  I don't know.  I don't care.  But I've always operated under one belief when it comes to sex: if you don't feel dirty, you ain't doing it right.  

Now, I consider myself a fairly liberated guy, sexually speaking.  I mean, I'm as fucked up and damaged by my parents as the next guy, but I like to believe that when I enter the bedroom and the girl's clothes come off, that I am up for trying anything.  At least once.  My favorite quote on the subject of sex comes from Sommerset Maugham, who writes, 

“There is hardly anyone whose sexual life, if it were broadcast, would not fill the world at large with surprise and horror.” 

I know there are probably people out there (like Rodney) who call it "fornication" and who believe sexual intercourse is for making babies and that when performed out of wedlock they deserve a Cotton Mather smack down, but they probably live in the Midwest, which I scarcely even acknowledge as a legitimate populace, and they certainly aren't reading my blog, and maybe this is whom Aaron is writing for, and somewhere there are legions of dumpy, balding guys in Topeka who read Redbook, come across this article and think, Thank God, finally, someone speaks for me!  But I doubt it.  Because guys don't read this shit, unless they have jackass friends who sign them up for it, or they spend lots of time at the dentist. Which means, this article was written for women.  Which is what is really fucked up.  It's subterfuge.  And somewhere there is a little hottie, with a fabulous ass and babydoll negligee, who's feeling naughty tonight...until she comes across this asshole's article, and puts down and the garters and whip, slaps on the sweats, reheats the tuna casserole, and checks to see what romantic comedies are playing.  And that's a tragedy that could've been prevented.

Labels: , ,

Friday, July 22, 2011

Lip Service West: East Meets Left

It's official!  The original Lip Service folks (Andrea Askowitz and Esther Martinez) are flying out (along with Dr. Sean Kenniff, who is so popular he has his own fucking Wikipedia page ( for this year's Litquake extravaganza (  Couldn't be more excited.

I'm so excited, in fact, that I am going to do something I rarely do: actually read at a Lip Service West event, which I stopped doing a while ago, since reading at the same event your producing is tantamount to throwing a surprise party for yourself (not that there is anything wrong with that, Andrea and Esther!).  

Seriously, this is going to be fucking awesome.  (Or as the kids say "off the hook.")  Don't know the exact location yet, but it will be somewhere in the Mission, probably on Valenica Street, in some seedy bar.  I've put together the dirtiest, most degenerate SF-based writers I know (including myself), which will be contrasted nicely with the Miami sunshine, neurosis, and all-around pop culture goodness.

I do have the date and time.  October 15th, 6:30-ish.

Here are the lives of each reader, whittled down to 25 words.

Andrea Askowitz wrote My Miserable, Lonely, Lesbian Pregnancy; co-produces Lip Service (Miami); and published work in the New York Times and who cares where else?

LSW producer, Joe Clifford has been published often, but he is most proud of Thuglit.  He has been to jail but never prison.

Sean Kenniff is a modern renaissance man: neurologist, medical journalist, author of acclaimed novels Etre the Cow and Stop Effing Yourself--and Survivor! castaway.

Greg Kim, a late bloomer, has been published in Drug CarTrue Lesbians and Litta, Please.  He wrote a book; the name isn’t important.

Esther Martinez has appeared in The Daily BeastNewsday, and on NPR and PBS in Miami, Florida, where she lives and procrastinates on writing.

Tom Pitts, former frontman for Short Dogs Grow, got his street education surviving a 16-year bout with heroin.  His work has appeared in Junk, others.

Hope you can make it.  These are some of the best writers (and people) I know. Don't miss it.  (And, yes, there will be free hot dogs.)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

How to Write a Best-Seller Pt. I

Probably should do this now before I forget what I read and have to read the fucking thing again.

How to Write a Best-Seller Pt. I: Nicholas Sparks, The Last Song

First, let me say it wasn't awful.  It was no worse than your average reality TV show. No worse than your first holiday with a girlfriend's family.  It was an ordinary Tuesday, which ends much the way it began, with neither bang nor whimper.  Just a disinterested sigh, knowing a lot more of these are in store before anything spectacular comes your way.  In other words, mediocre.

Which is actually an improvement over what I thought I'd get.  The hardest part of reading this was just knowing I was reading Nicholas Sparks, adored by the same masses I despise (grrrrr).  But truth is, the guy can tell a story.  Anyone who's tried to write a book knows this isn't as easy as it sounds.  You need A to add up to B before you can get to C.  Writers usually have A.  They sometimes have C.  They seldom have B.  But B is the really important part, the one that validates the other two.  You don't get B right and it's all for naught.

Of course, we hold our literature to a higher standard.  At least the people I call friends, associates, equals, and that is the big problem here.  Like Chris Rock once joked about white people who say they don't like rap: It's not for you.  And this book was not written for people like me, the...fringe element.  The Last Song is broad consumption mass appeal salt-of-the-earth.  When you live on the coasts, which I almost always have, you forget that 90% of this country is elsewhere.  Local poet Bucky Sinister has a piece where he says as far as most Californians are concerned, America ends somewhere in Nevada before picking up again on the East Coast.

Or like they say in AA: water seeks its own level.  And that's fine, knowing I wasn't the target audience.  The trick is going to be how to take what was written for a populace I largely loathe and glean what I can to write a hit of my own.  And there is much I learned.

So let's break that fucker down, bullet style:

  • They Are Who We Thought They Were
          Which is a little tricky, since we are used to people not being what they seem, which makes them what they seem, which makes being what they seem not what they seem.  (Who's dizzy?)  In The Last Song, the kid with the tattoos who lights stuff on fire is bad.  The kid from the good family with the athletic thighs is good. This is Sparks's world.  Sparks's protagonist (which according to the introduction was specifically written with that goofy-looking Miley Cyrus in mind) is a little rough around the edges, but I mean that in the most impotent way possible.  Her parents are divorced.  Which made her shoplift once.  But it made her feel bad. Now she is rigidly self-righteous.  And annoying.  But, oh, so good hearted. Everyone in this book is good hearted.  Except the bad kid with tattoos who lights things (and people) on fire.

  • Morality
         Served hot and warm with a generous helping of all the patriotic nutritional groups: God, Mom, Apple Pie.  Now, again, Sparks is talented enough a writer (you don't sell as many books as this guy has without having talent.  Might not be my "thing," but in no way can you simply say, "He sucks, Beavis") that he is able to weave an engaging narrative, with characters you care (mildly) about, and have it all hold together.  And the glue he uses to do that is mainstream morality.  Respect your elders.  Don't steal. Do the right thing.  Tell the truth.  All that crap.  The exact opposite of what fringe types want to hear (even if they largely practice these virtues, which are the correct virtues to practice) but which is comforting to the frumpy shapeless hausfrau in Des Moines (and, no, I don't know why large Germans live in Des Moines).

  • Tell the Story
         This is the one I can use.  If I encounter one consistently bad characteristic repeatedly in trying to run my reading series, Lip Service West, it's submissions where the writer can't get out of his or her way.  People like stories.  We've been telling the damn things since we first invented fire.  Nobody wants to read 18 page ruminations about why wasps in your grandmother's attic made such an impression on you when you were six.  If you're going to try to pull that shit off you better be named Delillo or Foster-Wallace.  Which brings us to

  • Tell the Story Pt. II: Better Make It a Love Story
          Most of my writer friends hate writing the fucking things.  But women read books, and women like them.  So give them a fucking love story.  

That's it.  I planned on giving you some schmaltzy examples of Sparks's worst lines, like "He's glimpsed a surprising tenderness beneath her rebellious exterior, and it piqued his curiosity," or the funeral scene, when "[t]he sun flooded though the glass, splitting into hundred of jewel-like prisms of glorious, richly colored light" and Ronnie "whispers...'Hi, Daddy...I knew you'd come."  (Insert gagging sound here.)

But that'd be stupid and petty, because I honestly can say I admire Nicholas Sparks. He cranks out these books, which sell millions, and I'd rather have that than respect of my peers or integrity, which are loose concepts at best anyway.  You write from your heart, and hope it leads to your wallet.  Not.  Easy.  To.  Do.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Lip Service West at This Year's Litquake

Found out yesterday that Lip Service West will again be participating in Litquake ( (the City, October).  Last year, we were part of the Litcrawl, which has like over 50 bars and venues participating, where, like its name implies, you basically hop bar-to-bar (and coffee shop and bookstores, too) to hear different readings.  Some are even held in alleys.  It's an eclectic affair.  Like Miami's International Book Fair (where I participated in Lip Service down there), Litquake is one of those brief times in the life of a writer where writing (and reading) actually matter.  The 9-day festival is crammed with various events.  Last year, Justine and I saw Tom Waits, Steve Earle, and Patti Smith, among others, pay tribute to Lawrence Felinghetti and City Lights Books, and this year the Czar of Noir, Eddie Muller, who read for LSW last year, will be interviewing Denis Lehane, a fellow FIU alum (whom I've never met and have absolutely nothing in common with).

I am trying to bring the Lip Service Miami folks out for this year's reading and have, like, a melding of the two, which would be a lovely juxtaposition (I'd exemplify this contrast by showing the two websites, the black, red, and downright scary LSW versus the aqua, pink, and brightly hopeful Miami, but they've recently redone their website, which can be found here (, and it's not nearly as...colorful (though, personally, I like it much better).

I am hoping to bring out Lip Service founder Andrea Askowitz (, author of My Lonely Miserable Lesbian Pregnancy, co-producer Esther Martinez, and Sean Kennif (Etre the Cow []), which I can then pair with LSW's usual fare of junkie woe, criminality, and general mayhem (currently Tom Pitts and Greg Kim are on board to represent the Left Coast contingency, and I may actually read at this one, too).

Mark your calendars.  October 15th, San Francisco.  Somewhere in the Mission, Valencia Street, around 6:30 p.m.  If this all comes together, it's going to be a helluva show.  And it may just finally bring balance to The Force.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Anonymous Hate

I have a cache of topics for these daily blog entries, and I try to work them out the day before.  I don't have the time to plan every morning what I am going to write about, because Holden has his own plans, and there are only so many distractions I can provide to get the time I need to craft these intimate exchanges.

My plan this morning was to write about The Last Song, the Nicholas Sparks novel I finished in Mexico, and offer what I've learned about Phase I in how to pen a best seller.  I know most everyone hates the guy, and I am not going to say I "enjoyed" the book, because I didn't.  Its wholesome, Christian, patriotic virtues border on nauseating at times.  But I can't entirely discount what he does, because millions of people buy his work.  And when everybody loves you, you can never be lonely (lonely lonely, I want to be a lion...)

But we'll talk about that later.


I have a routine every morning with the Internet, starting with e-mail, and ending with checking the two New York tabloids for recaps of the Yankee games the night before (this is altered slightly in the winter, but not by much because of the Hot Stove League and all the players the Yankee acquire trying to buy another championship [we're at 27 for those counting at home]).

The Yankees won last night, but this isn't a baseball post, promise.  When I opened up the Daily News, I saw this piece about $130K of meat that had turned rancid in Rikers and how at least one of the officials there suggested still serving it to the inmates.  Which is disturbing enough.  Then I read the user comments below.

Here are some typical ones:

I don't feel bad, in fact the only thing i feel bad about is that hardcore prisoners are eating better than I am on the tax dollars of hard working law abiding citizens. What does this teach people, hey if you can't afford life, go through the system! The prisioners come out stronger, healthier and more crime connected than when they went in. Hate to break it to you but there is no rehabilitation for murders, sexual predators and habitual criminals. We should go back to the chain gang days and have them work hard labor for their bread water and hard boiled egg. That would DRAMATICALLY cut down on state expenses, they owe society, not the other way around. Criminals HAD a choice to do the right thing and chose not to, why on earth should they be maintained?...


Feed it to them anyway! Who really cares about the criminal's? Instead of buying meat they should be eating bologna sandwiches and venison during deer season. No special treatment or decent food for these jailbirds


Lock down the prison and let the inmates eat each other.....considering the inmates are useless savages, I am sure many would willingly accept cannibalism....thats all those animals deserve anyway!!

These are countered by the "other side," urging fair and decent treatment for all, and I'm not going to wax all liberal on prisoner rights, really.  I'm not even sure that's the correct label for what I am anyway (technically speaking, I think I fall more under the "radical" category).  Though I don't think the debate whether to feed inmates rotten meat falls along partisan lines.   Or maybe it does.  I ain't touching that one.

What got me about this was less the topic of criminal rights and more just how mean and vicious anonymous Internet comments can be.  And you see it all the time. Check out practically any story, from any news' source (though admittedly tabloids elicit a little more fire), and you encounter two elements fairly consistently: hate, and bad writing.  Both of which are offensive to me.

There is a certain power afforded via the Internet, where you can by the handle Mad Max or jelly4000 and say whatever you want, however mean-spirited.  There is a divorce from any actual given situation, and life becomes purely abstract, a television program watched through a computer monitor, a fantasy.

But I know criminals.  Some of my best friends are ex-convicts.  I myself was pretty damn close to going away for a while, so it's hard to read comments equating inmates to dogs or saying they deserve less than that even.  This isn't discounting that there are some vicious violent monsters in Rikers, some of whom have done unspeakable things, and if I, or someone I love, had been the victim of their actions, I'd certainly feel differently.  For an individual.  But contextually, there has to be a bar we as a society set and stick to.  Call it punishment.  Call it rehabilitation. Whatever.  You don't fucking feed them spoiled meat.  Moreover, why the personal attacks?  Since I am pretty sure jelly4000 isn't speaking personally.

I suppose it comes down to this.  I was given a second chance.  A lot of people I know were.  Some of these people did very bad things.  But people turn their shit around every day.  It's not the norm, I know. In fact, it's probably pretty rare.  But like they say in AA: wait for the miracle to happen.  And until it does, I don't think you need to offer cable TV or conjugal visits, or I don't care to comment on it.  But, trust me, prison is bad enough.  You don't need to feed them food not fit for a dog.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Serious Limits of Fatherhood Pt. I

Today's writing prompt comes from li'l Sean C., age 14, from Des Moines, IL.  He writes,

Dear Joe,

You know what I'd like to see from you? Hardcore father. Something about coming up against the serious limits of what fatherhood requires of you, and finding out that your devotion to the kid trumps it all. Yeah, I am an old-fashioned moralist and see great virtue in that paradigm.


Actually, Sean is Sean Craven, who co-edits a terrific little literary magazine out here called Swill (  He's read for Lip Service West, and will be doing so again August 12th in Oakland.  He also has his own blog, Renaissance Oaf (, which you should check out. That takes care of the plugs.  Now onto the question.

It's a good question.  Which is why I am answering it.  It's why I started this blog in the first place.  Well, one of the two reasons, the other being what all blogs are for, ranting.  But the more people who read this, the less inclined I am simply to vent, and the more responsibility I feel not to waste anyone's time bitching and moaning (needlessly).

Of course, the biggest responsibility I feel is toward the little guy, my son, Holden, the boy who will one day be king.  At least this is what I tell him.  I suppose the biggest test of being a dad is suppressing my natural proclivity toward negativity. That is how others see me, negative, although I see myself less as a pessimist and more as a realist.  Holden will (most likely) never be king.  There are only a handful of monarchies left, and we ain't one of them (and most of those positions are already filled).

My primary job as a dad is to get Holden to believe he can be anything he wants to be.  Even though life, most likely, is actually going to go like this:  Which I've always known, intellectually, and I would've accepted that there simply comes a certain amount of disingenuousness with being a dad.  Santa Claus and all that.  I was "lied" to, and that just seemed to be a part of how all this works, working through the bullshit you are spoon fed from childhood, gradually shedding layers of mistruths, on your slow march toward the grave.


Here's the rub, the part I didn't anticipate.  I really believe Holden can be anything he wants to be.  Such hopefulness for me feels like this:

Still, I believe it. It's the strongest primal pull I've ever felt, the need to give this kid everything I had (and never had).  It's a form of self-preservation and -ascension.  I have seen the future.  And he is me.

So to answer Sean, it don't get any bigger than that.  My hatred, disgust, the governing force of my (pre-dad) life, my desire to say fuck it and fuck up and quit, Holden trumps it.  Something bigger than I takes over and makes me want to protect, shield, help, do right, do good for this kid.  And maybe those tendencies to do the same for me were always there, but for whatever reason I didn't find the subject worthy.  With the heir to the throne, I do.

Fuck, what do I know?  This is eons of evolution.  Lions and cubs and all that.  This is bigger than me.  And realizing that, just might be a first.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Club Med Aventure

We just got back from Club Med in Ixtapa, Mexico.  I called it our honeymoon. Justine calls it a vacation. Technically, our "honeymoon" was an overnight trip to Sonoma, which was cut short because we (I) couldn't be away from our son.  This time we took Holden, who fell in love for the first time with a pretty Island girl.

Club Med is pretty fucking goofy.  When you show up they have all the staff (and some dude in a hot sweaty lion costume who must be sweating balls in the Mexican heat) line up for the bus doing this clapping cheer, and they have trays of lemonade and chocolate-covered strawberries.  The bus ride to get to the resort cuts through Zihuatenejo, which I think is the town where Andy Dufresne flees when he busts out of Shawshank, and it's sort of depressing, with tin shacks carved into the dense vegetation teetering on hillsides and hand-painted auto shop signs, but then you climb the mountain and come out clean on the other side, and there's the beach and island and bright blue Pacific.  And a dancing lion.

The big selling point is "kid-friendly."  And there were a lot of families.  They have this thing called Baby Club Med, which is where you drop off your kid for the day (and where Holden met the lovely Carol), and then you go around and do various...activities.

Justine loves activities.  Joe hates activities.  But Justine loves them.  So she got to swing on a trapeze and we played tennis and rowed kayaks, and Holden got to enjoy his first summer fling, and a good time was had by all.

Some of the highlights:

  • Every day at noon, the staff lines up around the pool and the director (I'm assuming she's the director, unless she's just an over enthusiastic guest) leads a line dance.  There's a lot of hopping to the side and pretending to be a train or something.  I, of course, did not partake in said dance, but sometimes Justine did, and it seemed to make her happy. Although not as happy as when the staff came out dressed like various superheroes to get pelted (as they stood on a boat in the pool) with water balloons by little kids.  (One of the "superheroes" was Rocky, which obviously I thought was funny).

  • Baby Club Med.  I love the little guy, but two whole days where we could drop Holden off, check up on him when we missed him (which was invariably on the hour), and spend time with just my wife doing...stuff?  Pretty fucking awesome.  

  • Food.  For eight months I have been on a regimented, strict diet, cutting out virtually all carbs, and eating enough salad to choke a goat.  But my trainer Adam said I had to break up my metabolism, so for three days I got to eat like the rest of you people, with (homemade) tortillas and crepes and ice cream.  Pretty fucking sweet.

The only downside, the trip was short, and soon it was time to drive back.

My friend down in Miami, Sean, he's an author too.  And when I get something published, he'll send out a tweet (because he has a shit load of Twitter followers), and it'll say something like "Check out this short story from my buddy, Joe, the most dangerous writer in America."  Which I like, having a handle and all. 


Driving back through Zihuatenejo on our way to the airport after four days of goofy dancing and pretending to be a choo-choo train, I looked out the window at the wretched poverty of people whose best hope of going to Club Med was to a land a job there, and by the looks of most of them, that wasn't happening anytime soon. Drunkards sat at outside bars and mechanics fixed carburetors, and there was a hotel that no tourist was staying in, the sort of flophouse that only houses Americans on the run.  I knew what the inside looked like, because I used to live in those hotels. Mexico.  Sixth Street.  No difference.  As we road in the bus, a truckload of Federalis, M-16s cocked and at the ready, drove alongside us as we cut through jungle foliage, and for a moment, it was easy to pretend that I was in a hotspot, a Hemingway in a troubled time, a "dangerous" writer.  Then Holden squawked and snapped me out of my fantasy, and I realized I was just another guy with a bloated belly, leaving Club Med and going back to a pretty cushy life.  No revolution.  No safari.  The only lion, a local in a hot, sweaty costume, waving fifteen miles behind me, welcoming a new busload of families for a week of tennis and champagne fountains and silly dance moves.  

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Time to Recharge

So I need to take a break for a few.  Time to recharge.  Unplug and tune out.  At any given time, I can have two or three computers going at once, and when I leave my house I'm checking e-mails, responding to comments on this or Facebook, and I realize...I'm missing my son grow up.  Not really.  But I got a lot of shit to do for the next few days.  For those of you who miss me, let me direct your attention to the right hand side of this blog... Beneath the attractive picture of me (I know, I know, you're all, like, "Which one?  They're all so attractive!"  True.  But if you look between the attractive one where I'm wearing a cowboy hat and looking all smoldering intense, and the attractive one where I look, to quote my buddy Jimmy, "like an Amish Bible salesman" [it's from my wedding]), you'll see "Published Work."  This is all my work that's on the web, not everything I've got out there, just the stuff that's really easy to find.  Mostly fiction.  Some poetry.  Some chapters from the memoir.  If you're pressed for time, I recommend "Rags to Riches" or "Red Pistachios" (two of my favorites), both of which were published in the now-defunct (though still awesome) Thuglit, or maybe "Hepatitis Heights" if you want to be disturbed and feel sick.  If you're feeling less noir, there's other stuff, too, like "Unpublished Manuscript" and "In Cases Such As These."  Or feel free to go back to read one of the 170 some odd posts in this blog.  Point is, there is a shit-ton to keep you busy so you don't go missing me too much.  So don't go making me feel guilty. I love you, too.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, July 11, 2011

No News Is Good News

First, let me say thanks to everyone who read my story "The Exterminator" (and in case you didn't, just read the damn thing:  It came out on the Thunderdome website on Friday, but I really want to get in their print edition, so I asked everyone to read and comment on it, ad nauseum, which is a little annoying, I know.  But I appreciate it.


And in a nice segue... I spent all weekend dealing with a flea problem.  That might be overstating it, since no one but me seems to be getting bit but me.  I called my brother, Jason, who lives in New Hamsphire, to bitch about it, and he said that he, too, is allergic to their bites, so it probably runs in the family.  Which sucks.  Our "backyard" is basically a rocky brush mountain, and with three animals I can look forward to scratching my ankles raw every summer (I prefer pain to the itch).

In the end I suppose it was a good thing because it kept me from the computer and endless Casey Anthony headlines, Jaycee Dugard's interview, and various To Catch a Predator scandals.  It's why I isolate myself from the news more and more the older I get, or rather why I turn to sites like Yahoo, where I can click on a (dumbed-down) story or not.  And more and more, I chose not.

In re: to Anthony, I don't want to turn this into a rant about the criminal justice system or life.  I don't know all the "facts."  I just know what everyone else does, the bits and pieces of which, when mixed with a little common sense, certainly scream out the very definition of "miscarriage of justice."  And even writing this now makes me mad, so I'll stop.

So what can you do?  Live in a Unibomber shack in Montana and eat tree bark?  I always tell the story of the 2004 ACLS in which the Red Sox stormed back from an 0-3 hole against my Yankees to become the first team to ever do so and capture their first title in 86 years.  I hate the Red Sox so fucking much that I shut myself off from all news' sources.  No TV.  No newspapers.  No Internet.  For fear I might encounter a mention, however fleeting, to that series, which I sought to erase permanently from my consciousness.  So successful was this attempt that when, four months later, my friend Reed referenced the tsunami that devastated Thailand, I was, like, "What tsunami?"  And he was, all, "Y'know, the tsunami that leveled Thailand in December, that's been all over the news for months?"  And I said, "Nope.  Haven't heard about it."  And I hadn't.  And that's what I feel like doing now.

Is it because I'm a father?  Sure.  There are people who are going to say that it's even more important that I'm aware of the "dangers out there."  Oh, I'm aware all right.  You can't erase a lifetime of memory by not clicking on a hyperlink.  You become a parent, and this shit kicks into overdrive.  There's this primal need to protect your child (well, for most of us).  Everyone does it differently, and I don't know how anyone else prioritizes.  But for me it's Holden, and then everything else (and I know Justine is the same way).  I feel as though I have to attend to certain...things...that are particular to my well being (mental, physical, spiritual) before I can be the best for someone else, and these "things" require a lot of work. But our boat is sinking, and Holden's getting the only life vest; and I can't fathom how any parent could think otherwise (let alone actually do harm to his kid).  It seems so counterintuitive.  I mean, the kid is you, so you're like actually harming yourself.  I don't get it.

I don't even know what I'm trying to say.  I guess may God have mercy on the souls of the wicked.  And help anyone who tries to do harm to me or mine.  Yeah, something like that.


Well, that's a depressing note to end on.  So let's roll some video of guys getting hit in the balls with stuff.

Guys hit in the nuts.  Man, that's funny.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Things I Can No Longer Be

When I opened my Facebook this morning, I saw an ad asking if I'd like to be a detective.  I thought (to myself), "Why, yes, I very much would like to be a detective." That is why I came out to SF (for the second time) after all.  My friend David Corbett, an ex PI, was going to help me.  And he did.  But the economy crashed, and then I started doing other...stuff, and well, now with the boy and the economy sucking I'm on to other things.  Like bodybuilding and being a personal trainer.  I move ambitions around so much I'm sort of like a beautiful butterfly floating through life...

Of course, this is the other thing I did.  I put a baby in Justine.  And Holden takes up a lot of time, which further limits my options.  Plus, I'm old, lack athletic ability, my body's all fucked up, I'm mentally ill, and well this all conspires to create today's list.

A Few Things I Can No Longer Be

  • Military 

      I'm a Son Volt song:  The Army doesn't want me after what this body's been through.

At 40, I could maybe sign up for the Coast Guard or something, but with the hip and history of psychiatric hospitalizations, I doubt it.  Plus, from what I understand, you have to work weekends, and that would suck.  And while I (like all Good Americans) support our troops, I don't do well being told what to do, and from what I understand there is a lot of that in the military.

  • Astronaut

  • Next (White) Heavyweight Champion of the World
         Yeah, it's finally sunk in.  I'm 40.  I've never had a professional fight.  After years of smoking, I still get winded easily.  My reflexes have slowed considerably.  And I need my hip replaced.  Sorta like Rocky...but in Rocky VI.

(You can also add any sort of professional athlete to this mix, especially pitching for the New York Yankees.  I'm 40 and can't throw very hard. Actually, considering the Bombers current geriatric rotation, I might have a shot.)

  • Movie Star
         Actually, I'm still holding out for this one.  My friend Joe Loya is writing a script and he says he might have a part for me.  More than being a published author, I dream of someday making a living off my looks...

  • Anything with Security Clearance, Including (But Not Limited To) President of the US
         Stupid criminal record.

  • Doctor, Lawyer, Rock Star...
         This is getting depressing.  Maybe I'm better off listing all the things I still can be.

Thing I Still Can Be

  • World's Best Dad (cue collective...."Awwwwwww.")
          Actually, Father's Day's come and gone, and I didn't get even one "World's Best Dad" mug, T-shirt, or weed wacker.  Ingrate.
         Who needs a drink?