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Best of 2011

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Best of 2011

Can't help it.  End of the year always invokes retro(intro?)spection.  More than our ages, we use it as a barometer for success or failure, inspiring changes to get it better this time, even though results are destined to fall short of our well-intended, lofty goals.

At least I don't have to worry about chubsters joining my gym, cramming the parking lot and hogging all the good machines for the first two weeks of January, never to be seen again.  Because my gym is in my basement (and if you join now, you get this special introductory rate of 0% down and get the fuck out of my garage).

As I hinted at in an earlier post (, 2011 fucking kicked ass.  Was I finally happy?  No, of course not.  I'm Joe.  Happiness for me hurts.

But I found it tougher to bitch this past year, since pretty much everything was coming my way.  Which reminds me of tripping on mushrooms in the Marin Headlands long, long ago with my good friend Matt. It was a shaky start to the night--y'know, where the hallucinogen begins to tingle and you can't decide if she's gonna be a good witch or a bad witch.  The radio played softly in the fog-shrouded gloaming.  Then this song came on.

And everything was fine after that.

Not that there aren't things I want to improve upon for 2012.  I'd like to finally get those six pack abs I've always talked about.  I'm getting close, down to 13.5% body fat, and I think I'll be adding some new equipment to Club Joe.  Plus, I'm trying to boost my testosterone (naturally, of course; I don't fuck around with anything illegal these days) with BCAA (branch chain amino acids) and D aspartic acid, recommendations from my former nemesis-turned-body building advisor, George Murphy ( ).  But this isn't about my new and improved rock hard body (or the rusting metal parts inside holding it together).  If you'd like to see some beefcake shots, we're not shy, just ask.  (Please send two dead creeping to the Tropicana Motor Hotel, c/o young Joe...) (Apologies to Tom Waits).

For the rest of this week, you are going to encounter myriad Best Of lists, every newspapers, sports' show, Late Night Special, etc., is going to feature some variation of it.  So I figured I might as well offer a distinctly personal take on the concept as the year ticks on down.  

This year was a lot like that song I linked above, even though I fucking hate Santana.  Many, many good things happened in Joe's life.  So let's look at some of the highlights.  (We'll save the negative shit for tomorrow.)

Best Thing to Happen to Joe

We have a lot of entries here.  First off, like Nelly say, must be the money.  Then there's my marriage to the woman who turns more heads than anyone I've ever been with, the lovely Justine.  And the house.  Bought my first house in 2011, which brings about two more contenders: the gym in the basement, and the fucking indoor BBQ.  Any other year...I mean, how do you beat an indoor BBQ?  Too bad for the BBQ, 2011 saw the single greatest thing to ever happen to a wretch like me: my boy, Holden, who finally answered that nagging question.  What's it all for?  Him. It's all for him.  If you have a kid, you know what I mean.  If you don't, don't worry, maybe someday somebody will love you enough.  Just kidding.  At least you still get to sleep past 6.  

A few months ago, I made a comment to Justine, something like, "I love that boy more than anything in the world," and she said, "Even more than me?"  And I was, like, "Uh, yeah.  What?  You don't?"  And she just laughed.  It's OK being second to your husband or wife when you have a baby; the kid trumps all.  And Holden is doing tons of neat tricks these days, his little personality finally taking shape.  The little looks and idiosyncrasies.  Not that it's all a cakewalk.  Holden has taken to flopping like a British soccer player when he does't get his way, and six hours straight watching him on my own can make me feel like a midget is tap dancing on my last nerve.  But there is finally someone whose needs I gratefully put ahead of my own.  Best thing to happen to me this year.  Best thing to happen in my whole goddamn life.  It's like finally having that little monkey butler I always dreamed about...

Best Wedding

This is sort of cheating, since my last wedding was such a cocksucking sham.  And like that first blow job, marriages like that can really leave a bad taste in your mouth.  I lost so much with the last marriage, was so thoroughly lied to, taken advantage of, played for such a chump that, honestly, if my new wife, Justine, only sliced off one of my balls on our honeymoon night and put it in a jar of honey, we're still probably talking significant upgrade.  But the wedding and new wife have been such a rousing success, my testicles still fully intact.  Not to go all shmoopy...

But I'd like to thank my wife, Justine, for restoring a little faith in love, proving to me that this whole marriage thing needn't be a selfish series of self-serving duplicity. After all, at heart I am a Family Man.

It's nice to feel appreciated and not have your wife blowing your friends.

Best Concert

Tough one.  Two possibilities.  The Hold Steady.  Gaslight Anthem.  Saw the Hold Steady twice, once at the Fillmore, which was good, and then again with my buddy, Matt, at the Treasure Island Music Festival, which was like a prolonged rock 'n' roll orgasm.  Seriously, I think I came in my pants twice from the sheer rock force. Finn's voice and acerbic wit were finely honed that night, and the band, strangely operating without keys, never sounded better.  When they finished their 45-minute, no fat, all lean meat set, they left poor Death Cab for Cutie trying to follow up that shit.  Like watching Spinks try to take on Tyson. Woefully overmatched.

Still, I think I have to give it Gaslight Anthem.  My friend Rich and his (business) partner Dennis put on the San Jose concert series, so they got me, a very pregnant Justine, and Big Tom and his girl, Zenaida, backstage passes; and the fucking band's latest, American Slang, is a masterpiece (The Hold Steady's latest, Heaven Is Whenever, is good, but not like this) (this might've actually been in 2010, but it was so good, we're carrying it over).  Brian Fallon and Co. delivered a clinic that night, what rock 'n' roll is supposed to be all about: attitude, sneer, smart lyrics, emotional hooks and swells, romantic cynics in blue jeans and white tees and a little outlaw country twang.  And to top it all off, when I met them?  What a bunch on non-pretentious, down-to-earth, so-not-douchebag bunch of nice guys. Essentially the anti-Stephen Jenkins.

And you told me fortunes, in American slang...

Best Movie

Young Adult.  For all the reasons I mention here:  If you are pressed for time or just too lazy to click on the link: Diablo Cod's script is flawless, Charlize Theron's acting is unrivaled, as is Patton Oswalt's; and director Jason Reitman's direction gets out of the way, letting the story tell itself, which is what good direction, like good writing, should do.

Best Place to Talk to Old Friends from High School

I only wish Facebook would've come around about 20 years earlier and saved me from all that time I wasted with disappointing face-to-face interactions.

Best Book

This is another tough call.  There's Joe Loya's Confessions of a Bank Robber, and Alan Kaufman's Drunken Angel.  I reread The Dead Zone, and was again deeply affected.  There's Duane Swierczynski's Fun and Games.  Honestly, couldn't get into Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (don't ask me why).  Another gem: Pearce Hansen, Street Raised.  Which might be number one were it not for David Corbett's Do They Know I'm Running?  Which is nothing short of breathtaking, beautifully written, bestowing the best of humanity and dignity where you'd least expect to find it, in a creosote-drenched world.  It's a road book, and a love story, and the tale of a boy becoming a man, all set against the inhospitable, unforgiving Mexican landscape, pitting alien against alien.  Poignant, powerful shit.

Best Advice

Never play cards with a man named Doc, never eat at at placed called Mom's, and never lay down with a woman who has more problems than you do.  (If only I'd found his gem about 10 years earlier...)

Best Website

Hands down, Chuck Wendig's Terrible Minds:  It's like Candy & Cigarettes 2.0, jacked on steroids, with a hit of crack.  The best advice on writing out there, and he's funny and irreverent as hell, no punches pulled, and he hides his disillusion and bitterness far better than I.  There are not many writers I wish I could write like.  Chuck Wendig is one of them.

Best Sports Moment

Winning my first Fantasy Football Championship.  Duh.

Best Friend

OK.  You can't really have a best friend unless you are 12 (or you are my wife, for whom every friend is her best friend).  Plus, you write best friend, and everyone else you know is going to be offended.  And I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. (Except those of you douchehookers I hate; I don't give a shit about your feelings.) But the rest of you, I love you, all.  Still, I feel the need to single out one man.  Let's call it a Lifetime Achievement Award (and no this will not be another entry gushing over the attributes of Tom Pitts  This mantle goes to Rich Rice.  With the exception of some family members (at least the ones who aren't dead), I've known Rich longer than anyone, and though we've drifted out of one another's life, played lesser roles at different times, like any friendship of that length, we're still friends after knowing each other close to forty fucking years.  Fungi don't last that long.  He's isn't like a brother; he is a brother.  Or to equate it to pants... Rich had seldom been the flashiest pair.  He has no rhinestone sequins, no in-style/out-of-style bell bottoms.  He is the Wrangler jeans of my life. Dependable. Comfortable.  Built tough with a relaxed fit that lasts.  Rich is Brett Farve, but without the high interception rate or sending pics of his junk to strangers on his iPhone.  And in the big moments of my life, like picking a Best Man or choosing the godfather to my only son, there was never really any other choice.  

And now the best of the rest before the boy wakes up...

Best Comedian: Louis C.K. (who wins handily over runner up Daniel Tosh)

Best Local Band: The Wandering Jews (unless you ask my wife, who will pick my ex-guitarist's band, the Hollyhocks)

Best Website after Chuck Wendig's Terrible Minds: (  I don't know when Mad's retarded little brother became so good, but I'll say it: consistently funnier than the Onion.

Best Supermodel: Kate Upton.  All you need for evidence is this:

When a woman can do that to you in her clothes, I shudder to think what she could do without them.

Best Statistic: 17% of Americans believe Joan of Arc was Noah's wife.

Best Pound-for-Pound Boxer: Manny Pacquaio.  Fuck you, Floyd, you gutless turd.

Best Kids in the Hall Clip to Appear on this Blog:

Best TV Show, like, in Fucking Forever: Breaking Bad.  (If you don't like this show, you are wrong.)

Best Website to See Before and After Pics of Methheads: Faces of Meth (

Best Bet at the Track: $900 on the 5th horse in the 6th race.

Best Online Porn: Too many to choose from (but if you make me, I'd say redtube).

Best Color: For 36 years out of (we try not to acknowledge the green years).

Best New Swear Word: douchehooker (thank you, Annie!)

Best Way to Make Duane S. from Texas Stop Reading: Tebow.

Best Gym: My basement.

Best New Old Show: Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Best Place to Pick Up Women Online and Have Anonymous Sex: That's a joke to see if you've read this far, Justine.

Best New Sports' Radio Channel: 95.7, The Game.

Best Pic of a Man Dressed Like a Unicorn: This guy:

Best Potential Serial Killer I'd Like to Date:

Best Emotionally Damaged, Potty-Mouthed Sister of a Make-Believe Serial Killer I'd Like to Date:

Best Reminder to Be the Best Dad Possible:

And last, the category you've all been waiting for...

Best LOL Cat of 2011:

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