Bored To Death

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The other night I needed a good laugh. Lucky for me, there was plenty of material out there.

Amidst the flurry of corporate apology advertisements, I saw the Carl’s Jr. commercial for the Western Bacon Cheeseburger. It was so incredibly stupid. It was right on target.

Then, I watched Game 1 of The Finals. J.R.’s blunder was like nothing I had ever witnessed. It was pretty funny.

I ended the evening with a classic film. It was slapstick at its best.

So, the story continues; however, I don’t know what happens next. I can only tell you what has transpired since the last time we met.

One thing is for certain: I’ve been listening to a lot of blink-182. Frankly, I can’t stop.

Also, I’ve watched Tommy Boy a handful of times.

Recently, I’ve decided that I would like to do something with my life; I’m just not sure exactly what that is.

Breaking news: I am still unlucky in love. I haven’t found a match on Tinder yet. For the most part, I’m just browsing.

On this week’s episode, I feature a bloated soundtrack of late 90s/early 2000s skate punk. The music screams, “I’m miserable! I need you! Actually, on second thought, I’m fairly content living alone.”

See, I like my independence. I like my free speech, too. I tend to ignore the evil in this world; I only focus on the good things. I must be an American.

And, “I Must Be Hateful” is the fourth track on Blaze, which is the sixth studio album by Lagwagon.

Meanwhile, let us not forget about Osker, even though that’s exactly what happened.

Uh-oh! I must be boring you already. I’m sorry. Actually, I’m not sorry. Would you care to stick around?

If you want to leave at any point, just give me the heads-up. Thus far, I haven’t experienced much backlash, but it could happen instantly.

For now, we’re safe and sound. The shtick is the same as it’s always been. It feels like we’re going in circles on some ride at an amusement park. When you’re young, it’s fun. When you’re old and jaded, you tend to lose patience.

Fortunately, this is a story that harks back to my youth. It was a different time. Modern technology as we know it was in its infancy. This is a story about growing up, creating a legacy, burning out, and then coming back to life.

Last time, we focused on one song, which inevitably led us into a time warp. This time around, we’ll continue the heart-to-heart discussion. Occasionally, we’ll take smoke breaks.

I can assure you that it will be a wild ride. Also, I promise you that we will be able to pinpoint the intrinsic value of it all. Specifically, we’ll talk about current baseball matters; because at the end of the day, I’m deeply in love with baseball.

The good news is that baseball keeps me engaged. The bad news is that I’m mired in a slump. However, I’m sticking with what I have. I’m standing pat. I’m confident things will turn around. Hey, I’m still alive.

At this point, it would be prudent to recognize that the MLB season is now more than 25 percent complete. The winners are clear-cut. The losers are obvious. Undoubtedly, it’s going to be a long season. Still, you’ve got to show up every day.

Negative Nancy once said, “If we are well aware of the outcome, why do we continue?”

I don’t have the answer, Nancy. Indeed, the day-to-day can be exhilarating. Except, of course, when it’s not. Such is life.

Look, my issues are my own. I don’t want to bring you down with me. I’d rather just remain on the surface and talk about classic punk records, like So Long & Thanks For All The Shoes.

Speaking of which, the other day, my two-year-old niece received a pair of new shoes as a birthday gift from my mother. She pointed to her new kicks and exclaimed to the audience, “New shoes!” It was the cutest thing I had ever seen.

I opted to get her a stuffed animal. It was a stylish, princess-themed, pink teddy bear. I didn’t know what else to get her.

I don’t know anything about children, really. I don’t know how to change diapers. Furthermore, I don’t understand how children can play with the same toy for twenty minutes straight and not get bored. I just know it’s better when they’re not crying.

Whoops, I deviated from the main idea. My bad.

Essentially, this is a coming-of-age tale. I must warn you, it’s repetitive at times. Then it’s exciting. Then, it’s dull again. Initially, it’s tragic, as most things are. But, give it some time, and you might be able to dissect the humor.

It starts on a Monday night in early June, Two Thousand and Eighteen A.D. It ends shortly thereafter.

I was “Bored To Death.” The A’s had a scheduled OFF day. In fact, there were only five MLB games on tap, two of which were part of a double dip. The Finals didn’t resume until Wednesday. So, I wrote for a bit. Then, I made dinner.

I invited General Tso over for some company. He prepared his special chicken. I steamed rice and broccoli to round out the meal. I had some assorted chocolate candies for dessert.

I turned on the tube. I selected Diamondbacks at Giants.

The game was on in the background, but I spent most of the evening analyzing my life. I thought to myself, “Where have I been? Where am I? And, where do I want to be?”

Along the way, I listened to some more Osker. The seasoned rock critics will tell you that Treatment 5 was generic, and simply a sign of the times. But the follow-up – Idle Will Kill – well, that was their masterpiece.

Next up was Fenix TX. Do you remember this one? Mark Hoppus makes a cameo.

Finally, I rediscovered Home Grown. “Surfer Girl” was their big hit. I liked this one, too. Once upon a time, Home Grown signed to Drive-Thru Records. Then, they faded into oblivion.

You might not know about any of these bands, but I’m writing about them now because they left their mark.

Sadly, Dwight Clark passed away on Monday due to complications from ALS. He was a Bay Area (sports) icon. After all, who can forget The Catch?

To clarify, I don’t expect an answer to the prior question. That, my friends, is a rhetorical question. This is another rhetorical question.

Don’t you get it?

Death is tragic, but it’s the natural course of life. Except, of course, when it’s not.

By Tuesday, fashion designer Kate Spade made a decision. On Friday, celebrity chef/culture enthusiast Anthony Bourdain followed suit.

See, we want to recognize tragedies; we want to pay tribute; but we don’t want to dwell on the underlying issue.

My life is not perfect by any means. It’s just life in general. But every day, life goes on. I choose to wear a smile. I opt to stay hungry.

Similarly, baseball franchises must actively plan for the future.

On Monday evening, the A’s drafted a quarterback out of The University of Oklahoma. He can also navigate the outfield.

I thought to myself, “That’s a big risk. What if he opts for the NFL instead?”

At the same time, I wondered, “Why does MLB hold its draft during the baseball season? The NFL, NHL, and NBA conduct their respective drafts in the offseason.”

I moved on. Then I told myself, “I jotted down way too many notes for this chapter. I’ll have to divide it up into multiple parts.”

What you’ve read so far is the first installment. The sequel(s) is (are) up in the air. The production itself really depends on how much free time I gain, and subsequently waste.

The first part is really immature. It’s crass. It’s juvenile. It’s extremely callous. At its core, it’s just bathroom humor. Yeah, it’s a sad display of my talents.

The following episode(s) may show signs of maturity, much like the self-titled album, Blink-182. For now, I suggest that you relax. Try to bask in the carefree nature of the Dude Ranch era.

Now, try to relax further. You might consider popping a Xanax, taking a bong load, downing an Ambien, or simply having a drink.

Oh, boy. I hope this chapter hasn’t been too mind-numbing thus far. I hope you pay attention to what follows. Because, “Houston, we have a multitude of problems to address.”

As a nation, we are becoming more and more divided. Meanwhile, we spend too much time on the Internet. We troll one another in an effort to prod at the mistakes of others. We crave conflict. Technically speaking, it’s always been like this.

Sex and violence help pass the time. The problem is, is that folks are consumed with matters that they shouldn’t consume in the first place. Individuals choose to consume junk based solely out of boredom.

Used to be, people had fun. Not anymore. Studies show that Millennials aren’t really digging the rock ‘n’ roll scene as much as prior generations did.

Yup, everybody is oh so serious. Nobody can take a joke anymore. Not even a joke of the phallic nature.

Every day, it’s something else. Yet, it’s the same issue at heart. One wrong move and your career could be over. One misinterpreted tweet, and you’re opting for early retirement. One over-the-top observation and you’ve been 86’ed. You’ve been banned. Shunned. Blacklisted.

Roseanne led things off last week. Samantha Bee was on deck. Finally, NOFX found themselves in a hole.

Look here, folks: it’s another audio sample from So Long & Thanks For All The Shoes. It’s called “Kids Of The K-Hole.”

And, this here is “New Boobs,” a selection from Ribbed. And, who could forget about “My Vagina?” That one appears on Pump Up The Valuum.

Turns out, NOFX have been concocting offensive jokes for 35 years; however, they were out of line the other day. Indeed, they made a mistake. They went too far. It was a tasteless observation. Regardless, they found the time to issue an apology.

Yikes! When did we become so sheltered and easily offended?

Look, I don’t want to discuss any of these matters. I only want to mention that we’re like sitting ducks out there. We’re vulnerable. So be careful what you broadcast to the world. They’re listening. And, everybody else is watching, ready to critique your every action.

This is no longer a joke. It’s not funny anymore. Ethics, privacy, and decency have committed defenestration.

Maybe it’s a sign of the times. Maybe it’s attributed to the leadership in this country, or the lack thereof. Maybe our commander-in-chief is not keeping us connected after all. Maybe he’s pulling us apart, and training us to hate one another.

Consequently, it appears that we are all going to die for our own arrogance.

So, where do we go from here? And, how do we get there? Hey, are we there yet?

Unfortunately, I don’t have the answers. These observations are only the facts. These are the simple truths that were presented to me by the present-day media. But the media today is so polarized; hence, what news is really accurate?

Look, I ignore the hubbub nowadays. I simply wait for the sincerest of apologies from the companies that run our lives.

In the end, we’re one big, happy family. This is America, after all. This is the land of second chances (at least it used to be). So, let’s just forget everything and move on, okay?

As for me, I’d like to formally apologize for wasting your time.

Period. End of story.

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May 16

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Why did I cross Telegraph Avenue at 18th Street? Because I wanted some chicken. I wanted the chicken sandwich at Make Westing. I always get the chicken sandwich at Make Westing.

Once I was situated, I asked for the WiFi password. For those wondering, it’s jacklondon, all one word, all lowercase.

On this week’s installment of “My Life Is Horrible, But I’m Doing Okay,” it’s just more of the same. I’d hate to spoil the ending, but I just might. If you don’t want to read all of what follows, just click here, and you can call it a day. However, if you have the energy – then, by all means, please continue.

Last week, I went 2-5. I had two good days and five bad days.

“He’s three games under,” the baseball connoisseur would say.

I’m not contending. I need to get back to the .500 mark. From there, I can easily tread water. Along the way, I can make the proper adjustments.

Folks, this is no laughing matter. My life is a nightmare. Don’t you get it? I got crushed last week in fantasy baseball. I lost 7-3. I dealt with injuries here, demotions there, and simply an uninspiring performance all around.

I’m slowly realizing that, oftentimes, things have a tendency to crumble.

The other night – well, it was just a quiet evening at home. Then, I ran out of Tinder swipes.

“Oh, my!” I thought to myself.

I’ve got a problem. The good news is that I’ve pinpointed the issue at hand. We all know that the first step in solving a problem is acknowledging that you have a problem.

See, I can’t take anything seriously anymore. Everything is oh so funny as of late.

Hey, did you see the A’s-Mariners game on May 2? Probably not, so I will give you the recap.

The Mariners’ starter, James Paxton, was pitching a gem. He had recorded 16 punch-outs; he had relinquished one free pass; and, he had scattered five hits over seven innings. His command was overpowering. He was in control. However, his pitch count (by modern standards) was too high. He had hurled 105 pitches, 80 of which went for strikes. So, the Mariners’ skipper opted to pull him from the game. At that point, Seattle led 2-0.

Needless to say, the game changed after Paxton exited. It was a whole new ballgame. The Athletics sealed the W by a score of 3-2. It’s funny how that happens in baseball.

Paxton’s performance was a dream for fantasy managers, but it was a nightmare in real life. Fantasy stats are individualized. In reality, baseball is a team sport. Paxton’s efforts went unrecognized. At the end of the day, the Mariners lost the battle.

Life is beautiful if that’s how you perceive it to be. Life is a drag if you let it bring you down.

In the grand scheme of things, life is just a series of dates (to which we adhere). Some dates are scheduled well in advance. Others are spur-of-the-moment. Some dates are significant. Other dates carry little or no meaning. Some dates are fruitful. Other dates simply wither away.

To get you up to speed, I published an anecdote on April 20. It was smoking hot. On April 30, I overdosed on The Lawrence Arms. It was life-altering.

This time around, I offer up a series of one-liners. Reason being, I’m only here to make you laugh. In fact, you might laugh so hard, that you cry. Then you might wonder, “Is crying the same as laughing? Is comedy the same as tragedy?”

Per usual, the soundtrack serves only as a backdrop. I am not a musician; I am only a critic. The songs were pirated from the World Wide Web, because I am a product of the Millennial generation. The tunes were held up on the high seas, and now they complement my adventures.

In the end, I hope this episode is music to your ears. I hope you find it worthwhile. The interpretation is up for grabs. And, oh yeah, I hope you can take a joke.

This story ends on “May 16.”

It begins on May 4, a 24-hour stretch in which Stars Wars fans rejoiced.

The next day was Cinco de Mayo. Some Americans ate Mexican food; others listened to Squeeze. As for me, I watched the A’s game in high definition. I passed out on the couch. I conked out earlier than normal. I ate a hamburger for dinner. I was hit over the head by a greasy spoon. Then, KD’s game-winning shot woke me from my slumber.

May 6 was Stomper Socks giveaway day (for the first 10,000 fans). I’m no meteorologist, but I should mention that the weather was downright spectacular. The three of us sat approximately twenty rows above the visitors’ dugout. It was a battle of the vowels. It was the O’s versus the A’s.

Before the game, we posted up at the orange barricades in the south parking lot. Earlier that morning, I purchased a six-pack of India Pale Ale, alongside three tall boys of the Mexican variety (to celebrate Seis de Mayo). From the onset, it seemed like a pragmatic endeavor.

As for Bad Religion – well, it seems they brush on the physical nature of everything. They don’t believe in a higher power.

Going in, I held the belief that the home team would prevail. It seems that the home team always takes the crown on Sunday afternoons. Personally – well, I lost my lunch. I ordered a hot dog, but then I dropped half of it on the ground.

So it goes. So it goes.

On May 7, I opted for a staycation. I needed to get away, but, at the same time, I wanted to feel at home. I ended up in a room near the lake. It was Room 389. It was just Another Day In Paradise.

As I approached the bar, I saw thousands of people on Grand Avenue. They were all on their phones. They felt a bond – a bond unlike any other bond. They didn’t even look up from their devices as they crossed the street.

The truth of the matter is that I did not see thousands of people. Probably more like hundreds. After all, Grand Avenue, in all its glory, is a pretty quiet street in the Grand Lake neighborhood of Oakland, California. Especially at 3 o’clock in the afternoon on a Monday.

May 7 was a brainstorming day. I sat on the front patio with my laptop. I wrote down whatever came to my mind. I had a pilsner at my right. People came and people left. Meanwhile, I revisited Get Dead, The Bombpops, and Daydream.

On May 8, I celebrated my half birthday. I was presented with a curveball. I swung and missed. That’s right, you wouldn’t believe it if I told you! The water was out in my building again! That’s twice in three weeks without advance notice! For those of you at home – yes, I am keeping score.

May 8 was also the front end of a back-to-back.

On May 9, I bent over backward on the back end of the back-to-back.

At 4:24pm, a car rolled up to the podium.

In a state of panic, the lady exclaimed, “I’m late! I’ll be literally fifteen minutes! Can I leave my car here?”

I said, “Sure. Just leave the keys.”

She exited the vehicle and handed me the keys. “I shouldn’t be more than twenty minutes,” she added.

I didn’t give her a claim check. In thirty-five minutes, she emerged. She didn’t have any cash on her, though.

If I’ve learned anything from being a valet, it’s to always carry change for a twenty. But, you know, that’s just me.

Later that evening, The Longshot postponed their San Francisco date. Turns out, it was never meant to be.

On May 10, I put a dent in my student loans. Then, the interest kicked me to the curb. Later that day, I overdosed on Pain. It’s the new EP by Tennis System, and it’s just wonderful. I encourage everybody to listen to Tennis System.

On May 11, Ticketmaster sent me an email, mapping out gift recommendations for Mother’s Day. Truth be told, my Mom doesn’t go to concerts.

So, Ticketmaster – you know, get a clue.

And, Google – the Less Than Jake show — it was canceled on April 29. So don’t send me a notification on April 29 with instructions to, “Leave by 6:43pm to make it to the venue by 7:30pm.” I already made other plans.

And, StubHub, stop following me! I can’t make the tip-off on May 8. I have to park cars. You should know better.

You tech gurus should know everything about me. Shame on you.

This is a sad state of affairs. The irony is thick. The reality is that technology will be our demise, at least according to Bad Religion.

Yikes!

Consider the individual on the street utilizing his Bluetooth headset. Does he acknowledge this inevitability? All along, he’s chewing on his cord, and flailing his arms, all while talking to himself (or so it appears). I know he’s got someone on the other line, but what do other passersby think?

May 11 turned into May 12, and boy, I really burned the midnight oil. It’s like, there’s no rest for the wicked. Yeah, we’re just cogs in the machine. Sometimes, it feels like it’s all work and no play. Hey man, when do we get to sleep?

On the evening of May 12, I watched the feature film, Life Is Beautiful. The premise is morose, yet the story is presented in an upbeat fashion. At times, the comic relief overshadows the utter disregard for humanity. Ultimately, it is a heartbreaking tale with a happy ending. Indeed, it is the saddest flick that I’ve ever viewed.

Meanwhile, this is the saddest song by The Lawrence Arms.

Likewise, this is the saddest song by Bad Religion.

And, this is a stellar track culled from Streetlight Manifesto’s critically acclaimed record, Everything Goes Numb.

Last, but not least – I’d like to squeeze this one in, as well. It further illustrates my point.

Have you had enough? Could you use a good laugh? Well, we’re getting there. Don’t you worry!

May 13 was Mother’s Day. To be honest, I celebrated with my mother on the evening of May 12. To be straightforward, I parked A LOT of cars on May 13. To be Frank, this is yet another downer of a song.

On May 14, I wrote the majority of this story. My notes were a mess with which to begin. It was quite an endeavor. Slowly but surely, I pieced everything together.

In the early evening, I met some friends in The City by the Bay to watch Game 1 of The Western Conference Finals. To our dismay, the restaurant of choice did not offer a happy hour. It was a sad situation.

All the while, I received push alerts from the official MLB At-Bat application.

Turns out, KD hammered a solo shot. It went, “Crack!”

Then, KD nailed a 15-foot, fade-away jumper. It went, “Swish.”

Still, it seemed that the officiating crew in the basketball game were siding with the Rockets. In the end, Houston discovered that they had an impending problem with which to deal: The Warriors are just too good. They’re too disciplined. Also, the Dubs have Steph Curry.

After the game, I chatted with my sister via SMS. I cut the conversation short, though. I told her, “Sorry, I’m a little busy right now. I’m about to see a band called Preoccupations.”

They played at Rickshaw Stop in Hayes Valley. It almost sold out. Indeed, Preoccupations have not sold out yet. They’re still considered cool. All the cool kids were in attendance. And, let me tell you – Rickshaw Stop is a cool venue, but there’s limited cell service inside. Not cool.

So it goes. So it goes.

On May 15, I had to buckle down and finish this chapter. I had a deadline looming. I had carved out a release date of which to observe. It was no joke. My brain was fried from the night before. I made fried rice for breakfast. Then, I made a handful of revisions and inserted some extraneous bits to spice things up.

Soon enough, the weekend was over. I woke up on the Sixteenth of May. I showered, shaved, and got dressed. In the car on the way to work, I listened to Lagwagon. It was nothing special, though. It was Wednesday, which actually feels like a Monday to me.

Final Examination

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If life is a series of misfortunes, and comedy = tragedy + time (per Woody Allen), then is this whole thing a big joke?

Hello again, everybody. It’s great to be back. In this episode, I critique a big picture of the world. There seems to be an issue, though: I still don’t know what we’re doing.

I don’t remember much from my undergrad finance courses, either. I do know, however, that my skill set has rusted. After all, when you don’t get to play ball every day, it’s easy to fall out of shape. Now, I’m bent out of shape.

The other night, my friend told me a riddle. I couldn’t figure it out for the life of me. To others, it was a joke; it was a pun; it was a play on words. I was left out.

This is what I heard: “There are 30 cows on the field. 28 chicken. How many did not?”

This is how I should have interpreted it: “There are 30 cows on the field. 20 ate chicken. How many did not?”

The answer is 10. Now, this riddle generates more credit than it really deserves. It is overwrought with hype and highly dependent upon proper enunciation. When we get to the crux of the matter, it seems pretty silly. Yet, it makes sense. Riddles are supposed to be funny.

Likewise, In With The Out Crowd is the least acclaimed Less Than Jake album to date. Even so, it’s not that bad.

See, you have to listen to the wordplay. You have to be attentive. You have to recognize the context of the joke. You have to want to solve the riddle, as well. You have to be determined. You must be focused.

Do you comprehend?

The other day, StubHub sent me a push alert. It read, “Thursday is tomorrow. Don’t forget tickets.” But “the other day” was Tuesday, so Wednesday was “tomorrow.” I was utterly confused.

The delivery is key. The presentation is instrumental. And, of course, it’s a matter of opinion.

Do you take things at face value, or do you seek out a deeper meaning?

Can you remember names, or do you connect the dots with familiar faces?

I’m not crazy, okay? I’m just a regular nut. Truth be told, I’m an intellectual; I could talk your ear off.

Don’t worry if you missed last week’s episode. This week’s installment carries a similar pace. The following adventures are reminiscent of earlier explorations, all of which are brought to you by yours truly. There are no guest stars in this chapter. No cameos this time around. It’s just me!

Meanwhile, the soundtrack features a handful of the same artists. This is the music that matters.

So, with further ado, I’d like to continue prefacing this anecdote. I want to set the mood. I’d like to set the stage. I’ll continuously insert different phrases that mean the exact same thing. English professors would scoff at these redundancies.

See, I have the ability to keep up this routine because I have an advanced degree. I’m smarter than you. Did you know that I attended New York University? However, somewhere along the way, I fell behind. I think I missed my calling.

About a month ago, I opted to go back to school to enhance my personal brand. This Spring semester, I took a crash course in The Lawrence Arms.

“Oh. Cool. Who are The Lawrence Arms?”

The waitress at the bar asked me before the show on Monday evening. She set down a pilsner draft and a shot of Bulleit on the table. She wore a nose ring.

The Lawrence Arms are a punk band from Chicago, Illinois. They formed in 1999 and have since released six long-playing records. The name pays homage to the apartment complex in which the band members once resided. Needless to say, they don’t live there anymore.

My “Final Examination” was Monday night at the Bottom Of The Hill in San Francisco, California. The results are in. I passed, but not with flying colors. Yeah, I just skated by.

Now, I’d like to give you a preview of the subject matter at hand. This piece right here – it is only a taste of Apathy and Exhaustion. And, this excerpt over there — well, that is culled from The Greatest Story Ever Told. Bear in mind, it doesn’t get any better than this!

No, I’m not a submarine sandwich. I’m the savior; I’m the good guy; I’m the victor. I have a unique personality. I am abnormal. I am attractive. I am a smart ass. I am glued to my smartphone at all hours of the day. I feel a connection, don’t you?

These are all wonderful character traits. Some can recognize the splendor; others cannot.

So it goes! So it goes!

On Wednesday morning, I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. I made my way out of The Town and into the suburban sprawl. I stopped at the local donut shop, but it didn’t do the trick. Word on the street is that the self-proclaimed sugar high is actually a farce. It’s a sham. It’s fake news. Can you believe it?!

Wednesday was awful. I couldn’t wait for Thursday. In my youth, I never got into Thursday. Now, it all seems so relevant. Likewise, I never gave The Lawrence Arms the time of day. Now, it all seems so obvious.

Ticket prices had dropped substantially; but, at the end of the day, I decided to stay in and watch television. From a physical standpoint, I was in Full Collapse mode.

On Thursday morning, I woke up on the right side of the bed. To my dismay, the water was shut off in my building. So, I boiled some bottled water and prepared a single cup of coffee. I couldn’t take a shower, though. And, let me tell you, a good shower affects one’s mood and appearance.

On Friday morning, I woke up on the left side of the bed. I was scheduled to work at 3pm. The water was functioning on this particular day. I had eggs for breakfast. I studied for my exam. Then, I listened to some Less Than Jake. Initially, the volume was too low. I turned it up. Everything was okay.

That was until the news surfaced. It was real news. The show on Sunday night at August Hall had been canceled due to (unforeseen) renovations. I shot my friend a text message.

“Hey man, did you see the events that transpired?” I said.

Early Saturday, I woke up in the middle of the night. My body went back to sleep, but my mind was racing. At work, I went through the motions. To be perfectly blunt, work was slow and dull.

To be perfectly clear, The Lawrence Arms’ best album to date is Oh! Calcutta! This is the worst song on the record. It’s over-the-top and predictable. It’s merely a gimmick. Consequently, it sparks a decline in popularity. Ultimately, the value is depleted, and the quality is sacrificed.

I’m depleted, too; but I lived to see another day on Sunday. It was a big day. We were expecting 300 people.

“They’re having a fundraiser, I think,” I would tell guests as they walked by the various booths in the courtyard.

We parked 70 cars or so. Granted, it wasn’t hot outside, but I managed to lose my cool.

One guest locked his keys in his own car before I had a chance to park it. Another guest opted to jump the shark. He served me with a friendly reminder.

He said, “Don’t lose my keys, okay?”

“Sure thing,”I replied.

Look, I can’t take care of everybody. The whole system is flawed with which to begin. Trust is passé, yet we continue to live our lives. We ignore the lies and the inequalities. We focus on the tedious nature of everything else. People can’t see the forest for the trees. Monotony turns into routine. We just punch the clock and think everything is okay.

It’s not a matter of principle anymore. It’s not based on seniority. It’s not determined by experience.

It’s all money!

However, let us not forget about the name variable. More often than not, it’s all in the name!

The song titles alone indicate greatness. They’re downright brilliant. They’re magnificent, in fact. They’re unheard-of. They’re out-of-this-world.

And, you know that you are dealing with a stellar rock ‘n’ roll outfit when they already have a Greatest Hits compilation entitled, We Are The Champions Of The World.

In the end, The Lawrence Arms are a trio of talented musicians with potato chips on their shoulders. They keep on making the same album over and over again. They are auteurs. They are professionals. They don’t care if you like them or not. They’ve already won. The audience is the butt of the joke.

On Monday night, I paid the price of admission to hear all about these horror stories. Initially, there were some technical difficulties. The crowd was notified immediately. Some time passed. Then, regularly scheduled programming resumed.

Monday’s performance was uplifting and laced with satire. It was like an outing to the vaudeville theatre. It was a series of shallow observations. Nonetheless, these were valid, shallow observations. Hey, this is the world in which we live.

The show itself sold out. It was a sold-out show. I drank beer and brown spirits. I caught some fresh air on the back patio. I ate subpar chicken tacos. They didn’t make the grade. I chatted with some familiar faces. I mouthed the words, and then I pumped my fists. Then, I went home.

I got to my place around 1am. I asked myself, “If you could go back and do it again, would you?

Absolutely. No question. No doubt about it. But there was no way I could go back on Tuesday night for round two. After all, I work at 7am on Wednesdays. In that scenario, I would just be asking for trouble.

Alas, I woke up once again on Tuesday. I paid my rent. I had a renewed lease on life. Turns out, I had actually found some meaning through a slew of trivial pursuits. In my drunken stupor the night before, I had written a note to myself. It read, “Life is beautiful.” I underlined it twice.

What a sobering thought.

———

Postscript: I am going to surprise everybody. Right. About. Now.

Green Friday

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I’m doing just fine, but I’ve lost my way. I have enough, but something is missing.

Every so often, I have to write a piece of this nature. I tend to write when I’m feeling lost. Then, I put pen to paper, and I feel better.

Then, the cycle continues.

Yesterday was Thursday, April 19. I did some things around the house. I took care of my dirty laundry. I cleaned the tub. I ran some errands. I listened to some (in)significant tracks spanning several decades.

Every day has a different feel, except for Tuesday.

Today is “Green Friday.” The weather forecast calls for hazy sunshine with record highs. Today is (in)significant. The music of yesterday was (in)significant, too.

Hey, to each his/her own.

Life is but a dream (at least for a third of every day). Our waking lives are pretty dull. Excitement occurs every once in a while, and such (in)significant events are documented accordingly. In the Millennial Age, this usually happens on social media.

This is the week that was. Mine started on Saturday. It ended on Friday. For the most part, it was a normal week. I parked (a lot of) cars. I burned rubber on occasion. I got smoked in fantasy baseball. Kevin Durant and company lit up the Spurs.

It was business as usual.

On Sunday, I ate a breakfast sandwich at lunchtime. I folded an egg. I cooked two pieces of bacon (which happened to have Canadian citizenship). Finally, I added cheddar cheese. Oh, and the bread was toasted.

I took a picture of the sandwich and posted it to my IG. All along, I thought to myself, “This is unhealthy.” The sandwich hit the spot, though. And, social media is merely a form of personal validation.

“Excuse me, sir! I need a stamped claim check for validation!” exclaimed the valet parker.

In case you were wondering, the italicized words a few lines above are, in fact, double entendres.

If you weren’t aware, Sunday was not actually Tax Day. Sunday was, indeed, Jackie Robinson Day. All MLB players donned the number 42. Jackie Robinson broke the color line in baseball on April 15, 1947.

Everybody knows (of) Jackie Robinson, but do you know who broke the color line in the NBA? Turns out, All Hallows Eve is now known as Earl Lloyd Day.

Why do we celebrate one “Individual,” but not the other?

And, why can’t every day be as good as Sunday?

I had a subpar outing on Monday. I was utterly exhausted by the end of the day. When I got home, I thought about “Looking for a job, but only [wound] up heading for a stiff drink.”

Turns out, the solution is not online or on your television screen. It’s all relationships. It’s “whom” you know, not “who” you know.

And, this isn’t even a story, per se; it’s just a bunch of (in)significant observations. Some are funny; others are not. Some are important; others garner less attention. We will remember some things; we will forget other matters.

Remember this one: I’m not available on Sundays. I usually sleep in and then I watch “Television.” And remember this one, too. Both tracks feature guest vocalists. Do you recognize the voices?

These are the comforting thoughts (and melodies) that I acknowledge each and every day that I exist on Planet Earth.

Must we keep these thoughts bottled up? Can we talk about it? Can we post about it on social media? By doing so, does that make us narcissists?

Modern science suggests that Millennials (aided by the advent of social media) are “increasingly” prone to display narcissistic tendencies.

See, we are the Millennial generation. We are the champions. We ate our Wheaties for breakfast. We are full of ourselves. We are the best. We can do anything we want to do. We use the Internet as a platform for discussion. We think everybody else cares about our problems. We’re modern celebrities. At the end of the day, we’re all (in)significant.

Honestly, I don’t have a clue about anything. So, “Let’s talk about nothing.

Yeah. Yeah. Everyone is his/her own biggest fan.

I’m afflicted. You’re addicted [to social media].

Whoa! Whoa!

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves!

“Oh, but it keeps us ‘connected,’ right?” Sure! I have about 300 Facebook friends. I talk to about five of them.

Folks, just checking in here… Are we having fun yet?  Or do you prefer to listen to “Burnout” by Green Day on April 20? I know, I know. It’s a long shot, but I figured I would ask.

Now, let’s get back to the action!

The A’s were back in action on Tuesday. First pitch was at 7:07pm. The games are (regularly) scheduled at 1:05pm and 7:05pm, but the first pitch is always two minutes thereafter. What’s that all about?

And, last week, there was a snowstorm in Chicago. The White Sox played their game; the Cubs opted to listen to The Lawrence Arms.

What do you make of this weather as of late? It’s causing quite a headache for MLB schedule makers. At the end of the day, each regular season MLB game is a “Means To An End.” When the games are postponed, we just “Blame It On The Rain

Lucky for the A’s, they are blessed with a Mediterranean-type climate. Still, everything is relative. As such, the Athletics sold out the Coliseum on a cold, Tuesday night in April. Admission was complimentary. I didn’t go, though.

As of Tuesday, the A’s also sported the sixth-best offense in MLB. “It’s still early, though,” said the baseball expert.

So, let’s just see how things unfold. And, let’s not jump to conclusions about Shohei Ohtani.

Just who is this guy? He’s talented, no doubt. He must have a great public relations team, too. But, “What if he tires down the stretch?” the color commentator inquired.

See, Shohei Ohtani took the baseball world by storm.

And, Stormy Daniels is a porn star. Her real name is Stephanie Clifford.

And, porn is a factor of the Millennial generation. Porn is fantasy.

However, the reality is is that I’m a product of the social media age.

So, “Hooray for me! And fuck you!

Wednesday was dull. I’d rather not talk about it, okay? And, I won’t post about it on my social networks, either.

Just let it be known that I dumped two (in)significant, fantasy baseball players because they weren’t performing. It’s like, “I don’t have all day!”

By Thursday morning, Turnstile had sold out. The kids bought all of the hype. They scooped up all of the tickets before I could get my hands on one. It was quick. I didn’t expect it. I thought to myself, “They must have a damn good publicist on their side.” 

Turnstile came out of nowhere. Now, they’re fashionistas. They’re setting the trend (in modern rock ‘n’ roll). They’re more like turnstyles, though. They can change with the seasons.

So, are you ready for the next big thing?

If you’re not ready for such a rapid change of pace, if you’re set in your revolving ways, then try this one on for size.

Earlier this week, The Longshot played Thee Parkside. It sold out. I didn’t go. I was caught sleeping when tickets went on sale.

And, in case you didn’t put two and two together, The Longshot is the new side project of Billie Joe Armstrong (of Green Day fame). And, in case you didn’t realize, Tim Armstrong (of Rancid fame) was the guest vocalist on Bad Religion’s “Television.” And, Vinnie Caruana (of The Movielife and I Am The Avalanche fame) was the guest vocalist on Set Your Goal’s “This Will Be The Death Of Us.”

Also, The Penske File will play with Decent Criminal next Tuesday night. Good news, it hasn’t sold out yet. Meanwhile, Thursday will play two sold-out shows next week, one on Wednesday and the other on Thursday.

So, April 19 just came and went. I just wasted away the day. I listened to Stranger Than Fiction; I went to the drug store; then, I watched the Dubs at a local watering hole.

This is what I do with my time. It’s pretty sad. Some might say, “That’s messed up.”

Well, this is messed up, too. Turns out, there’s a hot war brewing in a brisk April.

This, my friends, is a fact: Steph Curry is the straw that stirs the drink.

And, by golly, this is a magician hard at work.

Last, but not least, this is the absolute truth: We are in the midst of an American tragedy. The question is, “Can we recover?

 

Opening Day

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“The key is in the center counsel,” the middle-aged man reminded the valet. He drove a Maserati SUV. He knew a handful of important people. He made a healthy living. But, he didn’t know the difference between a legal “counsel” and the center “console” of his luxury vehicle. All the while, his wife was in the passenger seat. She didn’t say a word.

Soon thereafter, a souped-up, black Acura TL approached the podium. The vanity plates read, “cz2day.” The driver rolled down his window.

“Should I just back it up over there?” he inquired while pointing to a vacant stall.

“I’ll take care of it,” the valet replied confidently.

“It’s really no problem,” the guest insisted.

“Well, that’s my job,” the valet retorted. “Otherwise I wouldn’t be here, right?”

“Huh, good point,” the guest relinquished after acknowledging the astute observation. He left his prized sedan on the drive and handed the valet a folded $10 bill.

——-

I almost lost my shit the other night. It was an “off” day.

I narrowly escaped. I nearly misplaced an important physical belonging. I had had a few too many with which to begin. Then, I left my laptop in my Uber. “Oh my God!” I exclaimed. There was no one else around, though. I was talking to myself.

I talk to myself on a regular basis. Lately, I’ve been wondering, “Is this healthy? Am I normal?”

At work, I rarely talk to myself. I talk to guests. We speculate about the weather. Often, we talk about the weekend festivities. Sometimes, we chat about professional sports. Other times, we wax philosophical in regards to the outstanding, local eateries.

I rarely talk about politics. I do find, however, that the (talk) radio dial in most cars that I service is set to Fox News. Who would’ve thought?!

And, while March Madness has run its course, I still believe that everybody is nuts.

Hey, I could lose it, too. Remember, “Nothing is certain except death and taxes,” at least according to Ben Franklin. I believe in Ben because he’s on the $100 bill. I don’t believe in much else, though.

Believe you me, I managed to maintain my composure on Saturday night at work. In fact, that’s exactly where this story begins.

My story is littered with inane conversations and sudden bursts of calisthenics. While the details are fairly elementary; they can become extremely tiresome over an extended period of time. At the end of the day, it’s not the physical nature of the job that gets to me; it’s the mental component that wears me out.

As a result, I dislike this gig most of the time. Nevertheless, it’s a gold mine, and the dialogue is priceless.

Still, I can’t do this forever. Moreover, I can’t function properly on the back end of a “back-to-back” assignment.

Fortunately, Sunday morning was relatively smooth. I got four hours of restless sleep; somehow, I was ready to go. See, Sunday is (usually) my “Friday.” Indeed, Sunday is my “bread and butter.” Everyone leaves. And, when they leave, they tip accordingly.

On this morning, I consumed two cups of coffee, alongside a toasted, everything bagel with plain schmear. While things were quiet, I performed some make-believe research at my desk. My fantasy draft was set for Monday night. Rest assured, I’m not a degenerate; I simply manage a baseball team. And, bear in mind, I’m not Jewish; I’m just a little wired on Sunday mornings.

On this particular Sunday, I hit a wall. It was around 1pm. I couldn’t run anymore. I attempted a light jog, but then I would walk to retrieve the automobiles when I was out of sight.

See, when I work in the morning, by the end of the shift, I’m physically exhausted. When I work at night, by the time I clock out, I’m mentally fatigued. I’m actively seeking an explanation for this phenomenon.

After work, I eased into my evening routine. In the background, a series of events unfolded in an unpredictable fashion. A highly-talented basketball team was embarrassed once again. A porn star was interviewed on the nightly news. She said that she had done the no-pants dance with the Prez.

It was the end of the world as we knew it! Everything was Fucked. With that in mind, I opted to attend The Shell Corporation’s record release party at Hemlock Tavern. I had absolutely nothing to lose.

On Monday morning, I filled in at work. I played the part of the bellman. I opened doors for guests. Occupancy was down. The lunch crowd was light. I helped an elderly lady. I made $27 in tips. I pondered my existence.

On Tuesday, I filed my taxes. I also renewed my passport, because I want to see the world.

In the meantime, I want to share this song with you. It’s an oldie, but goodie. It’s deep, yet playable.

On Wednesday morning, work was unbearably slow. I paced around the porte-cochère. I listened to an inspirational tune on my 10-minute break. Upon returning, I handed a guest her keys. She proceeded to scrape her Ford Escape against the side railing. Then, she tried to blame it on me. Who would’ve thought?!

Early Thursday morning, I heard a noise in the distance. Enthusiasm was widespread. Cheers were in order. The morning news team was on the scene. Everyone was happy (for the time being). They issued their report from the playing field. First pitch was set for 1:07pm.

Please understand that my life is, in fact, ordinary; however, “Opening Day” was epic.

The sun was shining. It was 74 degrees Fahrenheit. The UV index was a 6 (out of 10). A pair of sluggers hit “back-to-back” home runs. Gold won the dot race in the middle of the 4th. A soprano offered a rendition of “God Bless, America” during the 7th-inning stretch. The home team erased a sizable deficit and subsequently won in dramatic fashion. They called it a “walk-off.”

And, long ago, “We Called It America.”

But, I digress.

After the ballgame, I took the train into the City. I was fried. I had fried food for dinner, as well. Somehow, I made it to the Senses Fail concert. But, I failed to make it to the end. When all was said and done, “I ruined the evening again.” Turns out, the sun and booze concoction had killed my spirit.

Good news, though! On Sunday, there was a resurrection. I came back to life, just in time for Easter brunch. It was busy, yet manageable. I made good money. However, I also got stiffed a handful of times.

I thought to myself, “It’s okay. I’m just out here for my health!”

Then I realized, “Jesus, it’s April Fools’ Day!” It made perfect sense. It was all one big joke.

Seriously, though. “Thank you so much” and “Much appreciated” — those expressions don’t pay my rent. So, what’s the deal? Am I rude? Am I selfish? Did I do something to offend you?

Also, do you find this whole thing funny? Do you find these anecdotes worthwhile? Does this hyperlink support the topic of discussion?

Look here, folks. Life plays itself out one day at a time, kind of like baseball. We have the ability to prevail on any given day. Some days, however, it’s just not in the cards. Life is a grind. It’s a series of hot streaks and miserable slumps. The key is to have a solid average, a good deal of versatility, and a positive outlook.

On Easter Sunday, I did a poor man’s job, and I walked away with a rich man’s salary.

On Monday night, I tracked down my Uber driver. He returned my computer. I tipped him $40 in cash to cover his gasoline expenses, his time, and his honesty.

So while money changes everything, everything is nothing, and nothing is exactly what I’ve accomplished. I’m just another statistic. I’m just another burnout. Oh well. Things could be worse, I suppose. After all, people keep telling me that I ought to “Burn out, not fade away.

L.A. Story

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I told myself I wouldn’t fall for it.

Then, she came to me the other night in my dreams. We had a nice conversation, so I asked her out. She wasn’t interested, though. She told me, “In your dreams.”

Pipe dreams are overrated. I’d rather just hang out at the bar, and bask in the reality of everyday encounters. Fittingly, that’s where this story begins.

“I’m just passing through,” I said to the bartender. “I’m on my way to Hollywood.”

The bartender looked familiar. He had a beard now, but I definitely recognized him.

“You’ve worked here forever, yeah?” I inquired. “I went to Poly. Class of ‘07.”

“Yes sir,” he confirmed. “I’m still here.”

His name was George. He also attended California Polytechnic State University. Since graduating, he had opted for the SLO life.

“You doing alright? What can I get for you?” George asked.

“Yeah. I’m good,” I said in an assertive, reassuring tone. “Could I please have a Jack ‘n’ ginger with a lime? Ginger ale, that is. Thanks, man.”

Things are okay, I suppose. I can’t complain, really. Things could be worse. It’s utter chaos out there, but we’ll be fine.

I had shelter for the time being. It was called Black Sheep Bar & Grill. I used to come here all the time during my formative years. On this evening, I sat at the bar, four stools over from the left-hand side. In the music business, they call that “stage right.”

It was a cold night for San Luis Obispo standards. There was a steady downpour outside. The wind was howling. An NBA game with playoff implications appeared on the television screen.

As I enjoyed my beverage, I pondered, “Did SLO get modern or did I get old?”

Just to be clear, I attended Cal Poly – San Luis Obispo (not Pomona). And, later that evening, I met up with some fellow friends/alums, Tim and Mary. They’re married now. They work in town. They live by the water.

We ate, drank, and recalled old times. I was the third wheel. That’s just how the story goes. That was until we (coincidentally) bumped into one of their friends. His name was David. David is an actor.

Meanwhile, I’m a writer. I’m a writer that feeds off contemporary rock ‘n’ roll. I’m also a music fan that parks cars for a living. And, I’m a living, breathing human being. But nothing lasts forever, and nothing really matters. In the end, we are all insignificant.

Things happen along the way, but most things are not worthy of a recap. This story, however, is worthy of a brief synopsis. Understand, though, it’s nothing special. The character names have been altered. The places of interest aren’t really that interesting. The monotony and the downtime have been excluded. This is only the highlight reel.

Some of you will enjoy this tale. Others might find it too pretentious, maybe a bit over-the-top, or slightly excessive in nature. Bear in mind, this is just another “L.A. Story.”

It resumes on a Friday in early March. People kept telling me, “Arrive early because there will be a lot of traffic.”

“Yeah, I know. I get it. It’s L.A.,” I thought to myself.

It was late morning, approaching noon. It was raining cats and dogs. I hopped on the El Camino Real and headed south. That song by Phantom Planet played in the background.

I wanted to get to Los Angeles by early afternoon. I wanted to beat rush hour. I would settle in at the hotel, maybe take a catnap, and then head to the show later that evening. I had made tentative plans to see some family and friends on Saturday and Sunday, but everything was still up in the air. We would play it by ear.

Turns out, the traffic wasn’t that bad. It was raining, but we were moving. At approximately 20 miles an hour.

Technically speaking, this piece is a “West L.A. Story,” because I didn’t venture to the east side on this particular weekend. I used to live in the enclave of Northeast L.A. with all of the cool kids. It’s a whole other world on the east side of Hollywood.

For this weekend getaway, I opted for a role reversal. I was large and in charge. I stayed at a luxury boutique hotel perched on a seven-acre plot in the 11000 block of Sunset Boulevard. The bellman carried my bags. The valet parked my car. I tipped the appropriate amount. The staff addressed me by my surname.

“The address is 11461 Sunset Boulevard,” I told my Uncle Stan. “It’s right off the 405, near The Getty.”

“What kind of car should I be looking for?” I asked.

“A black Tesla,” he replied.

He and my Aunt Sally swung by the hotel to pick me up just before 7 on Saturday evening. It was still raining. Really, it was an on-and-off drizzle, but it was still wet for L.A. standards. The “res” was set for 7:15pm. The concept was an upscale market/restaurant hybrid situated in the well-to-do neighborhood of Brentwood. It was called Farmshop.

We ate. We talked about the past. We commented on the present. Then, we speculated about the future. Over the course of the meal, the three of us managed to polish two bottles of red wine, one being a Cabernet Sauvignon, and the other being a Pinot Noir.

Just like that, this award-winning weekend trip was a little more than halfway complete. The night before I had seen Zebrahead at Doug Weston’s Troubadour in West Hollywood. When all was said and done, I had driven 400 miles for an hour-long set. Some might call it crazy. I call it living.

Most people don’t know who (the hell) Zebrahead are, but that’s okay. On Friday night, I said, “Fuck it,” and then I let the good times roll. Before the show, I enjoyed a hefty bowl of ramen with chicken, a small carafe of cold sake, and one tall boy of Asahi.

At the show, I posted up in the balcony and rubbed elbows with the A&R folks. Things were just fine.

On Saturday morning, I ventured down the 405 and then west on the 90 towards Playa Del Rey. It’s a beach community. It’s quiet. It’s serene. It was in the high 50s / low 60s. It was partly sunny outside, so I wore a light jacket.

“I think I’ve lost faith in humanity. I just don’t give a fuck,” I told my friends, Matt and Jen, over brunch. Matt and Jen are married. They are NYC transplants. I’m pretty sure that they feel the same way I do.

Matt booked the “res” for noon at Playa Provisions. We had done brunch there once before, maybe a year and a half ago. This time around, I had the lobster roll. I had the option of getting breakfast, too, but my gut said to go with lunch.

See, that’s the beauty of brunch. You can have it both ways. It’s a flexible meal. You can kill two birds with one stone. Plus, you can have it on Saturday and/or Sunday. However, I don’t think that brunch exists during the workweek. That just how the story goes.

So, of course, I did the exact same thing on Sunday. I had brunch once again. Same time, different place. But, let me tell you, this Sunday was unique. It was different from any other Sunday in L.A. It was Oscar Sunday.

“Where da Oscar Party at?” I asked Bryan. “Should we hit up a bar first in your hood, then cruise over to Matt and Jen’s?”

“Word. Meet me at Cozy Inn around 2:30,” Bryan replied via text.

Things were shaping up.

Bryan is another NYC colleague/transplant. He recently relocated to the west coast. We were going to get into some trouble. Then we would unwind with an Oscars-themed get-together at Matt and Jen’s place.

First, though, I would meet up with Ken. Ken and I have known each other since high school. Ken is an oil tycoon. Actually, he’s not, but he works in that industry. Ken lives in Long Beach. He drove up that morning, and we met in Venice. I had never spent much time in Venice. Turns out, it looks a lot like the rest of L.A.

I ordered breakfast at Café Buna. But, it wasn’t really a café, per se; it resembled that of an old-school L.A. diner.

It was a bright day outside, somewhere in the lows 60s. It was still a bit atypical for March; luckily, the rain had finally passed. I had sunny-side up eggs, with rice, black beans, and a side of flour tortillas. Some refer to this dish as “Huevos Rancheros.”

Ken, who also acts as my blockchain investment advisor, ordered the French toast. Then, he proceeded to tell me that there is a dark cloud looming over the crypto market. “There’s just no fanfare anymore. I think crypto might be dead,” he claimed.

The day was just getting underway, though. We made our way to Cozy Inn. Rest assured, this establishment was nothing more than a crummy, little dive bar situated in Culver City.

By the way, did you know that Culver City is, in fact, its own city? Glendale, Burbank, Pasadena, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and West Hollywood are separate cities, too. Yet, areas like Silver Lake, Highland Park, Eagle Rock, Echo Park and other such neighborhoods are just that. I don’t get it, really. It’s all L.A. to me.

Still, the watering hole met my standards. At last, we met up with Bryan. We played shuffleboard. We drank cheap beer. We talked about the past, and we lived in the present. As for the future, well, it’s unknown.

After a while, we decided it was time to move on. We kicked Sunday Funday into “high gear,” so to speak. We meandered a mere two blocks to another watering hole. On this particular Oscar Sunday, we sipped on expensive whiskey while watching The Red Carpet Show at The Cinema Bar on Sepulveda Boulevard.

Soon after, we Ubered back to the beach. We arrived at Matt and Jen’s. We drank more beer. We ordered pizza. We watched the movie stars of today accept their awards at their highly exclusive gala. Unfortunately, I hadn’t seen any of the films that were up for Best Picture. Furthermore, I didn’t expect Kobe Bryant to win an Academy Award for some esoteric, cartoonish sketch.

So it goes.

This is the weekend that was. It actually happened. It occurred. It took place. Some aspects have been fictionalized because “Nothing Is Ever What It Seems.”

“[Los Angeles] is not the City of Angels; it’s a city of ghosts!” It’s a vast wasteland populated by ordinary people, just like you and me.

It’s a graveyard.

It’s Hell on Earth.

But, I digress.

I had wonderful weekend jaunt. I’ll probably go back to L.A. one of these days. In the meantime, I must revert to regularly scheduled activities.

Spring Training

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You might think to yourself, “I’ve already heard this one before.” You’re probably right.

There are multiple angles that accompany each course of action. There are differing opinions at play. There are six ways to Sunday. There are a handful of expressions that ultimately say the same thing. It’s called paraphrasing.

I could write about the same topic(s) that someone else already wrote about, but I’ll stray from that path. Instead, this piece will be in my own words.

Please be warned, this week’s episode is not really a story. It’s just a series of non sequiturs. In the end, this whole performance could be deemed unattractive to some audience members.

I hope my findings will be music to your ears. Also, I hope you can see that this chapter is not a sprint; it’s a marathon. Furthermore, I hope you can realize that this is not a life sentence; it’s a lifestyle.

I won’t embellish because there’s no point in doing so. I’ll be upfront, honest, and forthright.

The truth is, is that I have an ailment. I’m only happy from April through October. Let it be known, I’m not getting married anytime soon. Nope —my only cure— it’s known as baseball season.

We’re not quite there yet, but we’re making progress. We’ve got to get in shape first. So, are you ready for a workout?

This tale begins on a Wednesday night in mid-February. It was Singles Awareness Day. It was around this time when the weather took a turn for the worse. Northern California experienced a cold snap. It happened instantly.

It was a school night, but I didn’t have any homework. I rolled solo. I found a vacant stool at the local watering hole. I ate tacos con carnitas. Then, I was on my way. I ended the night with a live rendition of songs about girls, drinking, and utter hopelessness.

See, you have no idea what it’s like. It’s cold, and I’m alone.

“It’s still cold!” I exclaimed as I turned the corner at Lakeshore and E. 18th Street. It was nearly 1AM. Andy was on the other end of the cellular telephone. We had been playing phone tag all week.

“What kind of music is Jeff Rosenstock, anyhow?” Andy inquired.

“I don’t know. ‘Stoner rock?” I suggested.

The problem is, is that Millennials simply don’t call one another anymore; the call has to be scheduled. It has to be planned ahead of time, kind of like a cold-weather wardrobe.

Typically, I don’t plan for such an outfit. I just wear layers, when necessary. However, it wasn’t enough this week. I’m still shivering. Believe you me, it’s frigid out there.

So, I ate soup on Monday to stay warm. I had miso pork ramen, coupled with a generous helping of Japanese whiskey. Then, I made my way to The New Parish. I saw the American Dream on display. Rest assured, my friends, it is alive and well.

On Tuesday afternoon, I sought shelter at the cinema. I avoided the inclement weather for two hours and fifteen minutes. At the concession stand, I ordered a “Junior Popcorn” alongside a “Medium Coke.” I watched Black Panther. I liked the message it brought forth, but I’m not really a comic book guy. Oh well.

After the flick, I tried calling Andy. He didn’t answer. I walked to Luka’s. I got the salmon for dinner. After I finished eating, I just didn’t know if there were any other fish left in the sea.

Wednesday night it was Parquet Courts, which really is just a fancy way of saying “hardwood floors.” It’s like a basketball court, or perhaps the sticky surface at The Fillmore.

Wednesday morning was cold. Again. You already know this. Work was suffocating, to say the least. I wanted soup again. More ramen. I would go to Japantown later that evening (because I believe that I have a growing affinity for Japanese culture).

I couldn’t find what I was looking for, though; so, I went to Harry’s instead. They had Olympic figure skating on the tube. “What a bore,” I thought to myself. Then I forwarded some nonsensical observations to a handful of acquaintances on a dedicated, group text thread. “This isn’t very cutting-edge,” I said. “When do the Dubs play again?” Nobody answered (until the next day).

I thought I ordered a Cuban sandwich; turns out, I ordered a pulled pork panini. Oh well. It hit the spot. After all, I was dazed and quite famished. I blamed it on the weather.

I ate slowly because I am discovering that eating slowly is more satisfying. I find that the flavors really take shape over the course of a drawn-out meal.

After the concert let out, the crowd dispersed. We moved slowly down the dual staircase. Along the way, we were treated to red delicious apples. Upon exiting, we received a complimentary event poster.

On Thursday morning, I felt sick to my stomach. I didn’t feel like myself. Nevertheless, I mustered up the strength to go out again. After all, this whole thing is a grind. As a matter of fact, this whole thing is called Noise Pop. On Thursday night, Noise Pop resurfaced at Great American Music Hall. When all was said and done, it was apparent:

  • (1) The Hotelier are reminiscent of Brand New, and
  • (2) Jeff Rosenstock – well, he can really paint a picture.

But, Noise Pop is not really a music festival, per se. It’s just a weeklong series of heavily-sponsored, overpriced shows. Some of the artists are at the forefront of being considered “cool,” while others acts are more established.

Noise Pop is not South By Southwest, by any means. It’s just a primer. There’s no BBQ, either. It’s not (how) CMJ (used to be). They’re no pretentious, rooftop mixers. It doesn’t resemble The FEST whatsoever. At Noise Pop, attendees actually go to their technology jobs during the day. The amps are only plugged in when the sun sets.

By Friday, I was done (with Noise Pop). I opted for Dead To Me. They would play later that evening at Brick & Mortar Music Hall, which is really just a subpar venue in my humble opinion. Oh well.

This show was different. It was sponsored by Punks, Incorporated (i.e. the working class). Admission was 13 bones. Rolling Rocks (bundled with well whiskey shots) went for 10 buckaroos. Meanwhile, this was my fourth show in five nights. Some might call it plain irresponsible. I call it “Spring Training.”

On Sunday morning, I found myself outside in the cold. Again. I wrote this anecdote at my desk at my place of employment, with the intent of not using any direct quotes. Without a doubt, every action has been paraphrased. These words are my own. These (first-world) problems are my own, too.

Hey, what can I tell you? I like a good challenge every now and then.

As always, I like to end every narrative accordingly. This one is bound to have a Hollywood ending.