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I don’t mean that literally. It’s not as if I disowned myself or was somehow excommunicated. I have simply removed myself from 97% of what I know.

And it’s a little terrifying… but I also know that I was abandoned.

NYC, the town I have loved and which has fostered me since my teenage years of Continental and CBGBs - is no longer. One of us grew up and I’m unsure which one, but I have my suspicions. I’m sorry, NYC. I can no longer afford to live in you. I can no longer afford to cultivate art, food, or even love within you. You have literally shuttered everything I held dear whilst pushing everything I loved about you away. Almost all of us are leaving. I’m sure you’re aware of this, but I still feel guilty. I refuse to be “broken” by you, but one has to know when to get out of an abusive relationship; and with your high rise towers and your ridiculous rents, taxes and a MetroCard fee-hike every year, that is exactly what you have become: abusive. When I was young, I wanted it rough (and I still have it that way), but you replaced kissing with choking when we made love, NYC. 

I had good work as a voiceover artist for almost a decade. It’s rare that you can make a quarter-mil per year in your late 20s just for talking into a microphone, and I was grateful. I took my friends out to dinner and I bought property because everyone told me “You’re going to have a long career, man. You’re one of the top dogs. Invest!” It wasn’t necessarily a lie, but it was a mis-truth. The whole industry went to shit and almost everyone I know who is a “top dog” is struggling to find work. My voice isn’t going anywhere, but the world needs to remember that it once loved it and should have returned the call.

For three years, I was basically unemployed. Picking up any odd job I could for cash. CASH ONLY. If I’m gonna have to work security at a drag-queen bar for $100 until 4am, I don’t see a reason to let the government know about it. Technically, I could have qualified for Section 8 and food stamps on paper - but I had that little problem of the property that everyone told me to buy. The one that cost me $5,000 a month in mortgage and common charge fees. The one that allowed me to have a gorgeous king-size bed, in which I would wake up every morning, open my eyes to the ceiling, and think, “Holy FUCK… how am I gonna afford this ceiling?!”

I felt helpless and alone. I’ve had a job nearly every day since I was 10 years old, and now I couldn’t find one. I was either over- or under-qualified for every gig I went after. Additionally, when your agent is still sending you out on auditions all day long (“Hey, man… we’ve got a 10am, a 2pm, and a 5:45pm” for you today) you can’t hold down a real job. 

"Maybe you should get a night job" my agent suggested.

"Well, then, you have to stop asking me to get up at 8am to take a shit, shower, and a one-hour subway ride to an audition at 10am because I won’t get home until 5am if I’m working as a chef or bartender."

[ED NOTE: Can I tell you something about auditioning for all of you non-actors out there? It’s a JOB INTERVIEW. If you’ve ever been fired, quit, or laid-off, there’s a strong chance that you’ll be bummed out for a wee while. You’ll update your LinkedIn profile and you’ll send out two dozen resumes. Odds are you’ll get called in for an interview (which is what actors refer to as a “call-back” - which means they saw/heard your tape, brought you in to read, and then decided that you’re worthy of another round to which you’ll travel to, and still MAYBE you’ll get the job - that’s already one more step than you working stiffs). Actors will probably NOT get the job. Actors will be judged upon some unrelated bullshit - you WILL get cast because you remind the casting agent of their cousin whom they love or you DON’T get cast because you remind them of the cousin they hate or the marketing team simply decided that a 15-year-old Peruvian girl is a better fit for the role than a man in his mid-30s despite what the casting specifications said. 

Now, do that every other day. Three times a day. And hope that you get at least ONE job a year. That ONE job could be a year’s salary, but the odds are against you. You’re. Not. Getting. The. Job.

But you go out there anyway and you try. And you allow your soul to be crushed.

This is why I would consider the three angriest professions (in no particular order) to be actors, chefs, and writers - all of which I can perform with aptitude and aplomb - making me an exceptionally angry man. All three careers are a cauldron of rejection and self-loathing.]

I fell into a deep, multi-year depression. The kind wherein your alarm goes off at 8am, but you lie in bed until noon because you’re unsure how to RESTART, much less START your day. 

Needless to say, this made my girlfriend of six years very disappointed in me. A part of me thinks that things would have been easier if I hadn’t been so positive, driven, and successful when we first met. Another part of me thinks that she simply didn’t know how to give me the support that I needed.

Regardless, it’s probably my fault. It almost always is.

So, when we broke up, I put my condo on the market. It sold for cash within three days. I threw everything I needed into a backpack and a suitcase and everything else went into a trailer which drove off to a storage unit in destinations unknown.

For the last six weeks, I’ve been in 7 different towns within 4 different time zones. I’ve seen great people, cooked great meals, fired great guns, and made great art. I also found a bit of peace; I sleep better, I look better, and I’m relaxed. 

Now, I’m finally in a new town, but I only know a dozen people. I also have no furniture, which is bad on an old man’s back. I have no job, but I have some money in the bank. I have no bed or ashtray, but a friend loaned me an air-mattress and I’m using an empty beer can.

I miss the county of Kings.
I miss seeing my family, even though it was only a few times a year.
I miss my adopted family of drunks, miscreants, blacks, queers, jews, muslims, freaks, artists, whackos, and assholes.

But I shall re-create it. And - more importantly - those I left behind will never leave me.

MOST importantly, however, it was time to boogie.

Trust me, gang - I feel better already.

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female friend: “over the last decade, i can probably count on one hand the number of times that I’ve actually seen you DRUNK.”

me: “should you ever get the chance, please explain this to all of my ex-girlfriends. Just because I’m out-pacing you doesn’t mean I’m hammered. It’s called Body-Mass Index and ‘practice’.”

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When I was a kid, my dad turned me on to “The Great Escape.” In fact, it seemed like it was always playing on WPIX (if “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” wasn’t on) every Sunday afternoon when I had to go to grandma’s house for over-cooked and under-seasoned lamb.

My mom used to joke that my dad loved that movie when he was a kid because he was always trying to get away from his family and perhaps I loved it for the same reason under similar circumstances.

But I know that I loved it because Steve McQueen remains the coolest fucking guy in recorded history.

I know I loved it because Charles Bronson hated small spaces, but would “dig because I have to get out.”

And I know I loved it because James Garner could con Nazi guards into giving him what he needed so he could get the job done. Something I feel like I do on a daily basis.

I’m gonna continue the Sunday tradition and watch this movie for the millionth time.

Thank you, James Garner. You were a handsome bad-ass. #RIP

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ex’s friend’s husband

asks “can i help you pack up?”

good people exist.

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After losing my girlfriend of six years, selling my condo of five years, and deciding to leave Brooklyn after 12 years… I have to pack. It saddens me on all levels, but life happens whether you like it or not.

While rooting through a closet, I found a shoebox full of letters and photos from girlfriends dating back as far as ‘99. They’re in the trash now, but I had to go through them all; it only seemed fair to the women who once said “I love you.”

Don’t get me wrong: I’ve dated some whackjobs in that 15 year period, but I appreciate each and every one of them for the lessons (good and bad) that they’ve taught me.

So, while it was a trifle painful - and life is not dealing me a much more comfortable hand these days - it was interesting to realize that each woman complimented me on my emotional strength. That’s something that I need to remember and adhere to these days: stay strong and sack up, ya cunt.

But I also found this passage in a letter that I apparently never sent back in 2000: 

"It’s all about The Blues. I keep hearing that and my dad always told me that when I was young. The Blues is losing what you had. The Blues is not having what you want."

Yes, young man. Life is mostly The Blues. But the catch is that when you’re singing The Blues you’re at least SINGING and making other people happy. 

And if you sing on key, you’ll make yourself happy, too.

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It’s a big bed. 

I upgraded from a Queen to a King because - even though she’s only five feet tall and I’m over six feet - she always managed to prove the 80/20 rule. She got 80% of the bed and I got the scraps; I’d often wake up on the verge of falling out. But maybe that’s because she’d always be rolling me over at 4am because I snore like a fucking monster.

Or maybe that’s just because every man who’s reading this can identify on some level. The bed is not our territory. We do our best to provide enough blankets and pillows even though both make us uncomfortable enough to not fall sleep and we’re always being asked to raise the thermostat. It’s a sacrifice of love. Love and a happy woman are worth losing sleep and occasionally sweating through the sheets. After all, we’re the motherfuckers with apnea that makes the drapes move.

But, it’s a big bed and now I’m the only one in it.

When we first started dating, I’m fairly certain that there was never a discussion as to who got what side of the bed. I took the right side and that was that.

I’m unsure what caused it. Perhaps it was because that side of the bed (in that apartment) had the alarm clock and I was often waking up earlier than her during that time period.

Perhaps it was because it was the farthest place from the door for me to sleep. I’m a man and we do stupid, primitive things - often unconsciously and on a limbic/snake-brain level. I remember going to lunch with her and an older female friend one day and when we went to sit at the table, she asked me, “Why do you always have to sit with your back against the wall facing the door?”

"Sweetie," replied our older friend. "Men have been doing this since they learned how to walk upright. He needs to be aware of danger. It’s in his genes."

Oddly, if I made my woman sleep closer to the entrance to the cave, it would mean that she would be attacked first - but I suppose it would allot me an extra few seconds to grab a weapon and defend us.

We changed apartments, bought a new mattress, and the door stayed on the same side of the bed. As did our sides; her on the left, me on the right.

We haven’t shared a bed in over a month - though I hope that one day in the future we will do so again - yet I still lie down on “my side” when I shut my eyes at night. And it still feels weird whenever I roll over into her 80% even though she isn’t there.

Like I said: it’s a big bed. But I still feel like 20% is all I deserve.

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I walked into my favorite taverna in Fort Greene tonight hoping to get a couple of martinis and a couple of tapas. It’s a small dining room - maybe 900sqft with 15 tables - and the bar only has 10 stools, all of which are, at the moment, taken.

No sweat - I’ll order my martini when a stool opens up and I finally can sit because I certainly don’t want to take a two-top away from the staff - but I’d like to point out that HALF OF THE TABLES ARE EMPTY.

Then I realize that there are two “Rad Dads” sitting on either side of their children at the bar and both children are struggling through a bowl of raspberry sorbet. I see RD1 pay his check. He proceeds to sit there for another 20 minutes, apparently unsure that his child is not done with her saccharine rush.

I’m hovering - and if you have any sensibility, you would know when there is a man hovering over you. You would also be cognizant of when said hoverer says to the bartender, “Not yet, I’m just waiting for a seat to open up” in a loud theatrical voice.

Then again, sensibility is a fleeting attribute in this area at this time.

RD1 finally gets up and grabs his kid, so I pull the stool towards myself. RD2 says, “Hey, man! We’re sitting here.”

"Look, man," I replied - not making eye-contact so as not to appear aggressive, "It’s 5pm on a Friday, I’ve been on my feet all week and I just want a martini and an appetizer and you have two kids sitting on barstools at 5pm on a Friday when you could have been sitting at a table."

"Yeah, but it’s 5pm… what’s the problem!? I’m a regular here. So are you. Your name is ‘Mike’ right?"

[sigh]

"No, it’s not" I replied, correcting him on my name. Then I offered him "HIS” stool back numerous times, all of which he declined.

"No, let him sit and have his martini" he repeated to no one in particular.

I had my martini. I ate my salad. And as he picked up his brood he went to shake my hand.

"I’m sorry if I pissed you off earlier," I said. "It was nothing personal."

"Don’t sweat it," he said, while giving me a pound and a hug. But then he whispered into my ear, "But you handled that poorly."

[lava boiling]

"Perhaps…" I replied.

Pardon me, Rad Dad #2, but there isn’t a chainsaw gentle enough with which to fuck you and I don’t care how often you come here. Yes, this is a restaurant. Yes, this is a place wherein children are allowed. Yes, your kid can spend as much time finishing the dessert as they want. 

But have some fucking respect and sit at a table. This isn’t Friendly’s. This is a place that makes damned fine martinis and SOME of us have the respect for - not only the staff - but the other patrons. When I come in alone and hope to leave within an hour, I want a barstool. It frees up a table. I want to order my drink and my food and have a small area in which to enjoy them. I don’t need Romper Room in the Grown-Up Space and I CERTAINLY don’t need your approval.

FUCK YOU.

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"What are we doing for International Irish Whiskey Time?" he asked the other day.

"Uh, drinking…?" I replied.

The irony is that Dave and I both gave up Irish Whiskey a long time ago, but it’s how we refer to the amateur day that is supposedly in celebration of Saint Patrick’s death. But, we’ve been using this term for 14 years and old habits die hard.

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Year: 2000. Location: Greenwich Village/NoLita. Time: 11am.

Dave got up to piss and left me at the bar with my glass of Jameson and pint of Guinness. There had been a guy in a leather jacket hovering behind me with a haircut that was only popular in 1989 who apparently saw this break in my conversation as a chance to jump in on me.

"Hey, man" he said… "My name is Steven. Ya know, Steven Adler?"

I look at the face - and the haircut - and I recognize him as the original drummer for Guns N’ Roses. And then I realize that I’m about to have a really boring conversation with a mediocre musician who fried his brain on heroin and Jack Daniels.

"Yeah, man… Axl is putting the band back together with the original line-up and I’m leaving for a show in Vegas tomorrow!" And he prattled on, and on, and on, while I knew he was lying through his teeth and probably looking to get a free drink out of me.

48 hours later I saw Steven in Times Square buying a hot dog. I high-fived him as I walked past and asked “How was Vegas?” without breaking stride. His face looked crushed but I had a good laugh.

Today, Dave and I had our customary drinks and there were no washed-up rock-stars. Just good (if not intense) conversation and a few free rounds courtesy of a gay, black, Vietnam veteran who took a shine to our baritone voices.

That’s just as good, if not better.

Thank you, Dave. It’s always a (thoroughly fucking bizarre) pleasure.


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I walked up to the counter at the 24 hour deli and the guy behind it spotted something in my face and the obviousness of my keffiyeh.

"A salaam alaikum" he said.

"Alaikum salaam” I replied.

Then he said some shit that made no fucking sense.

"I’m sorry, man. My Arabic is horrible and I only know a dozen phrases, most of which are dirty words. I have Lebanese blood in me… and I hope that doesn’t upset you."

"Everyone there," he said, waving his hand in a circle, referring to the Middle East, "Is the same. They just have to stop fighting over who is God."

"I agree," I replied. "We have to stop throwing stones. We’re all the same people, and God is just up here, no?” I asked tapping my head. “So, can I grab that turkey sandwich-wrap there?”

He nodded and gave me a giant smile.

So I say to all of you: “peace be unto you.”

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Heroin-related deaths are not “up” - you just suddenly give a shit about foggy statistics for ratings. Stop acting like you care; especially when you’re all injecting botulism (a poison) into your FACE. 

Either care about everyone or don’t care at all. The choice is yours. But this selective sensationalism needs to stop. A great artist is dead because of smack; stop using it for ratings because it’s an old routine. 

Go watch a Lenny Bruce clip if you’re young. Dig a Nirvana video if you’re old. Read some Burroughs no matter your age. 

Just realize that when you’re pure, you’re raw. And being raw hurts. 

I’m not saying that drugs are the answer (though, I love drugs and I also believe that everyone around me is Xanaxed out of their mind - AND THEY’RE JUDGEMENTAL), one has to remember that The Artist is constantly providing - and they aren’t always refilled in healthy ways. 

Some people need to be high; others sober. Some people are happy to trudge along and some have a hole in their heart. Some fight at real demons and others tilt at windmills. Some find a peace within their own minds. The best option is to find a way to plug all the holes and stop the ship from sinking. 

But “exploitation” means nothing unless the name Russ Meyers is attached to it. Because… Tits. 

So stop talking shit about a guy who did awesome shit and yet couldn’t square his shit away. 

That’s not on you to judge.