Thursday, May 31, 2012

I Wrote A Screenplay - "West Coast"

Well, I done did it. I wrote a screenplay.

I wrote almost all of it during lunch breaks at work and in between reading books before bed over the course of a year. I mostly just added conversations here and there and a few important scenes along the way before connecting the dots. Finally, they came together and told a cohesive story. Given the standard ratio that each page equals a minute, my movie should be a little over two hours long. Also, given the fact that there are no explosions or deaths in my screenplay, that's probably as long as it should be.

For now, it's called West Coast. It's about Tim, a twenty-something writer type from Southern California who is now just floating along in New York City. He has a roommate he hates and a job he doesn't mind. In most cases, he shows a devoted mix of apathy and excitement. After a few spring flings, he drives across the country with his best friend and his best friend's girlfriend to attend the wedding of an old college buddy in the outskirts of San Francisco. Along the way, Tim learns that his ex-girlfriend, the once great love of his life, will be in attendance with her boyfriend and it drives him to reconsider where he's at in life and what he wants out of it.

Also, I'm sure that anything with a main character described as above ("a twenty-something writer type from Southern California") can make this sound like a thinly veiled autobiography, but nobody in the story is really based off anybody. It's just easier to write what you know sometimes, and I know what it's like to be a twenty-something writer type from Southern California. However, some random aspects of my life make they're way into the narrative (Liz's lakeside wedding in Northern California, Chris and my plan to move to New York, the six-legged cow at the fabled Prairie Dog Town I visited with Grant in Kansas, et cetera). That kind of stuff made its way into the tale, but it's a kooky grab-bag of life experiences.

So...let's say it's a dramedy. And let's also say that "dramedy" is a stupid word. Anyway, it's got some jokes, some arguments and the following lines:
  • "Eh. I have a New York state of mind and a California heart. And maybe a Washington, DC conscience."
  • "In Soviet Russia, your body wants me."
  • "I'm not Garrison Keillor, you dickhead. I don't have all these fucking anecdotes about my freewheeling youth."
See you at the theaters, everybody!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Cobblebacon Address

I'm a long-standing vegetarian, which is why I never host meat products here. But, if you really feel that meat is a necessary ingredient to everything in your life, you can go ahead and check out the more meaty version of my blog: The Cobblebacon Address

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Old Flames XVIII: A Beautiful Hope

Dazzling spectacles, I talk of you often. This was the last thought before evening. The sun crashed into the earth, wet from drinking, wayward from scotch. This was the last prayer of the infidel.

What a time, we had. What a holiday we conquered. This Roman joke of a Christian new year, celebrated in the peak of summer sweat and seduction. Oh, lovely traveler, where have you been for the year? This season will cure what ails you in this forbidden heat. Sure, give me the bucket of rain to make mist. Give us the mystery, they wailed. I make the weather here. In this neighborhood, I'm the chump-sotten god. I'm the one that broke bread with the Devil because he had free cable. This is our promise massacre. This was that last dynasty of brothers. It was a the final trick of the demon that spent the winter under my bed, playing cards with bad decisions, gambling everything.

But this summer has already been a soft spot in my heart attack. It's new to my touch, after a beaten spring of trial and error, mutiny and mistake, beloved and born-again. Screwed up from the very beginning, I had one chance to not set fire to suburbia. I coughed it up in the backseat of a Cadillac and wrote the poetry on a pizza box years later. I read it again in the caverns of my head and called it the roast of the century. I remember youth. I remember the olli-olli-oxen-free.

This is the next scene, but not the finale one. This wasn't the last bike ride, was it? This wasn't the last patriot barbecue, was it? I have so much more of America to love. I have so many more hearts to cover and favors to call in. I have so many dying wishes. I couldn't go to the grave without a lawyer's legal pad. I want my will written underground. I want my last taste to be poison. I want all regrets to flood out of my bullet hole wounds. I want all desire to keep me warm in the good, gracious cool halls of Heaven's waiting lobby. But don't call it limbo. I didn't bring a schtick.

Friday, May 25, 2012

On The Road Again

I'm reading Jack Kerouac's On The Road for the first time as an adult, and, I have to say, it still holds up. I was honestly concerned that it wouldn't. Since jumping in the car with Sal and Dean as a teenager with my heart set on seeing the world, things have changed for me, just as they (should) have for anyone. I know things now instead of theorize them. I've been through deaths, jobs, moves, break-ups, and, most importantly, actual trips.

Grant, Rich and I had a long talk about a month back when I first saw the trailer for the upcoming adaptation of On The Road. We shared with each other what the book represented to us as youths, and we wondered what it would mean if we read it again, now as people who don't scramble together cash, who don't get a fire in their gut over the world at a heartbreaking constant. We're not socio-politico teens with angst and ideas and romance shredding our nerves every inch of the way anymore. Now we're men. The angst can be countered with logic and exercise, the ideas can be thoroughly reasoned and explained and the romance can be a campfire instead of a wildfire if you need it to be. We're not always searching for the great unknown these days. We aren't moving and shaking looking to conquer the wild moment of "it."

Or are we?

That was a lazy turn of things, but I have to wonder. I didn't smoke or drink until I was 17. I was surrounded by vices, but I saw a maturity in refusing them. I didn't think they weren't for me, and I wasn't trying to make my parents proud. I just wasn't interested in it, and, given my nature, I knew how I could get really into things if I had the taste. So I just shrugged and said no thanks. But I still saw my twenties to come as a laughing passenger flying down the road, smoking cigarettes and drinking a beer while pouring over maps with rock 'n roll blaring from busted car speakers. I was restless as a teenager, but I wasn't reckless. I sought to protect my neck too often.

But I've had those moments in my twenties. I've gotten a text from Grant asking, "How would you like to smoke cigarettes and listen to rock 'n roll on the way to Mexico?" I've had Chase put together a last-minute trip in just about every direction. When I was working Los Angeles, I had Rex and Chase drive by my work and not slow down, so I had to toss my bags in and then dive into the van, like I was catching a boxcar. I've ended up at a house party in San Francisco me and my friend didn't know anyone and I've lied my way through the woods off the Massachusetts Turnpike. I'm certainly not the drop-everything type if I have responsibilities though. I've missed a good amount of trips for family and work reasons. But I've still had enough moments of restless adventure to sleep well at night and know that I turned my twenties into the golden age of laughing insanity I was more or less gunning for. Although, I have/hate to admit, I haven't done the all-time, all-the-time-in-the-world, let's-see-what-this-country-can-do spell of a road trip through every crevice and crack of America. But you have to be an exceptional planner or be exceptionally unplanned, and I'm neither. I'm somewhere in between.

It's hard to be truly balls-to-the-wall, heart-in-the-wind restless and reckless. To steal or to work a bum job just so you can flee and hum and dive around America leaves little to be done later. Sure, as a college student, you have summer and winter breaks. Shit, I remember trying to quit my waitering job so I could travel when I was 19, but they wouldn't let me. I told my boss that I wanted to take seven weeks off. She said that was fine. So I left for two months.

Again, you can do that as a college student. You can't often do that as an adult. There's a problem though. You have the time as a college student, but you have the money as an adult. It's the age-old conundrum that spikes every wanderer's heart with beating pulses in the middle class.

But I was able to do something close as recently as three years ago when I was laid off with a severance package. Chris suggested I go to Seattle with him for a while, so I did. I was a college graduate who had just been let go by a magazine. I had the time, the money and nowhere to be. It horrified me how much I loved it. This would also be how I ended up in Austin for a month on a one-way plane ticket. And, to be honest, that September in Texas may have been the craziest month of life affirmation I've ever barreled my way through.

You have to make a living at some point though.

So, after a summer of adventuring, writing and all around kicking up my heels, I settled into a job as a copywriter. I made more money than I had previously and I felt the tug of a corporate ladder. That's fine, I came to realize, as all those paychecks could go towards more weekend trips and grander plans and schemes than I could have ever done up as a waiter who showed up only two nights a week.

I didn't understand that as a teenager though. I couldn't do the workweek math to figure out the weekend or time-off journeys. I just wanted the effects without the causes.

I wanted to roam. I wanted to slum it. I wanted to disappear into the American landscape of mountains and highways. I wanted to rattle small town bars and jump around a big city like it was nothing. Like every other teenage boy who listened to Dylan and wrote a cliched poem or two, I wanted to appreciate a cold beer like a woman who wore red lipstick. As a teenager, I wasn't interested in a life of luxury. In the last few days of my junior year, a number of my friends, both male and female, and I sat around playing cards in history class. Everyone talked about what age they wanted a career, what age they wanted marriage, what age they wanted kids. All I could drum up was, "I see my twenties as ten good years of goofing off and fucking up."

And I've somehow traded restless and reckless for new variations of restless and reckless.

I have to wonder, maybe there was something about the character Dean Moriarty (and the real life wild man Neal Cassidy) that I had longed for before I even read the beatnik holy book. I wanted to be the disheveled, unassembled characters in the books I was instructed to read in high school, even though I had to admit that, back then, I was too thoughtful, careful and cautious to really go for it at the time. Sure, I wanted to be Dean, but I was more Sal. I wanted to be Gatsby, but I was more Nick. I wanted to be the wild expatriates, but I was more Jake Barnes.

The scales shifted in my twenties, and I was every character I read. That's something you learn with age, I figure. You realize you can't identify with a singular character, which is why nobody should be able to choose what character they are from the fucking Breakfast Club anymore. Everyone kind of has traits from some or all of them. No man or woman of purpose can be dropped into a category and be left there to live.

I suppose it was a matter of want and need once. Now, it's more of being interested and uninterested. After enough moments of conquering "it" here in America (popping pills in the breeze off the Oregon Coast, watching fireflies in the in the dying sunlit woods of Missouri, swimming through an southwest storm in Arizona, jumping off river cliffs in California's barely beating heart, et cetera) and abroad (taking a long bath after a 16-hour flight with the Sydney skyline out my window, drinking heavy-handed pints in Dublin's three-story pub in the Temple Bar District, lawn-bowling with friends and a surrogate grandmother in Vancouver, et cetera), it's not a matter of me not doing what I want. It's a matter of priority. I'm not rolling my eyes at the world and waiting for it to offer itself to me. I'm not begging my own caved-in insides to let me see the world like I did as a teenager. I'm not held down by things that are within my own hands that I'm pretending aren't as I sometimes pulled as an early-twentysomething. No, it's because I like what I've done and what I have.

Sure, ideally, I'd be a well-paid writer lifting in a big city loft who spends most of his money on travel. But I'm working on that.

And maybe I'd like a boat.

And a sandwich named after me.

And, alright, to be honest, I'd really like a fancy treehouse too.

Also, time travel remains a high priority for me.

But (regular) travel's always been my ultimate goal, hasn't it? Even as a kid, I loved the line in It's A Wonderful Life when Jimmy Stewart claims his favorite sounds are train whistles, anchor chains and plane engines. I only saw the road when I was younger though. I didn't want to fly over America and I didn't want to take cruises. Obviously, I see the tremendous value in both now. But, man, when you're bright-eyed cocky piece of teenage glory set on being a poet of the people, the road is all that matters. It's the scope of the future, the wreckage of passion, the endless ride of freedom.

This book does a number on me. Even now, I think about sailing pass my work and my home to keep on the search for the proud, incurable moment of "it" and the laughter of the wild American night. But, again, at this age and beyond, I figure a person can have the know-how to cultivate "it." By your late twenties, right before your superb spinning try at 30, a person should know how to make special moments. That doesn't mean force them. But when I first read Kerouac as a teenager, I was waiting for the world to come at me. Now, I know that a person needs to come at the world.

To put it less profoundly, I used think I was waiting for ninjas to attack. Now I know that I'm the ninja.

I can find and forgive the faults in the beatnik lifestyle, but this book just slips in the back door of your soul to sleep in the padded caverns of your heart. I've argued the merits of stream of consciousness writing, and more specifically On The Road itself, on at least two or three road trips with Chase, as he wages that The Alchemist and other novels have done up the true search for meaning better since the Kerouac. But now that I'm skipping town with the musing jiver Kerouac again, I can't say any other book does it like On The Road.

Kerouac's cracked jawline of America, buckling under the pressure of words and laughs, still inspires me. It makes me think and talk funny. There's a hopeless romanticism that seems sweet and awful, as he rolls through sex as if he's coming up for air. This was the last age before rock 'n roll, when jazz (and its big family of bop, jump and the rest of the gang) was considered the beautiful wild frontier of music. Suburbia was upon the coasts and the heartland, and the new country was just starting up again. You can feel the change happening in between the lines of Sal's lonely highways. It's the dying era of the nomad and the godforsaken poetry of the roaming buds. In a time of pay phones, these guys were calling each other to meet up in Denver or Jersey like it was the middle of the night, just down the road. There's something haunting about being that free, like you could do something dangerous with it if you had the right chance. They weren't even as mad about truth as the legions that followed them. It was this weird, unobstructed pursuit of "just living." There were no steps forward while the steps back were just steps in a different direction. I can recognize the exhaustion and the weight of age in the characters, and it's sad to me that they aren't getting what they want at home, sure, but that buoyant mother's sympathy in me is brief. It's a short spurt of existential empathy. Because it's mostly awe and envy. They're fictional, yes, but just about everyone is based off a real person in the beatnik network of the time. And the moments are real. The taking of sleep, the welfare of love, the wayward sense of every direction being the right one is something everyone's gone through and maybe always kind of longs for. And who doesn't want to barrel down that eternal highway of America? Sure, if I was friend's with Jack Kerouac, I'd probably tell him to get his shit together. But, every time he'd leave, it'd be easy to admit to myself that I wasn't more jealous of any other man in America.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Fuck You, John Mayer

All I know is that John Mayer has a song on his new album called "Whiskey, Whiskey, Whiskey," which just happens to be the name of a poem I posted on MySpace in 2008. You son of a bitch, John Mayer. You handsome, STD-riddled son of a bitch. Breaking every unstable girl's heart in Hollywood wasn't enough? You had to go ahead and steal my poem title? You dick. You unbelievable dick. And to think Brad cried at your concert. Whatever. Brad thinks you're a dick now too, by the way, you mouthy, cocky dick.

Fucking...first I called the music of The Bloodlit Stars "hip pop rocktronica" in 2004, and then, like three years later, Beck went ahead and called his new album's genre "hip hoptronica." Oh, was that your idea of a joke, you folk-jivin' whackadoodle? Am I the only person who sees right through the worst Hansen brother?

Oh, and then I thought it'd be cool to get down with Natalie Portman, and what does that melodramatic hipster gypsy asshole Devandra Banhart do? He fuckin' dates her! The guy looks like he's eternally tripping balls at Coachella and he got to get weird with Lady Black Swan. Fucking...ridiculous.

I tell ya, goddamn musicians are stealing all of my good ideas.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Awesome People Hanging Out Together

Nothing is getting me more pumped on my day right now than this blog: Awesome People Hanging Out Together

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Disaster Strike!

Every year, at least for the last few anyway, James and I have gotten together in some American city to go absolutely apeshit. We try to eat and drink as much as our bodies will allow or even barely tolerate. Tourist spots are sort of secondary to restaurants and bars. In Portland one night, we ate two full dinners late at night, one right after another, and then had Kevin stop by a doughnut shop on the way back to our hotel.  We drink as much beer and whiskey as we possibly can until our bodies simply give up. In New York City, we fell asleep during a live reading of Ulysses after we kept sneaking into the pub next door, waiting for Kristen to get off work so we could officially start drinking. For the most part, we mostly just yell and cheer and high-five and run amok. At some point, we also threaten to kill one of the host's friends too. There's also long heart-to-hearts while we stumble through the cities and thoughtful conversations as we wander through museums and art galleries. It's just got the same goal every time: go for it at maximum of everything.

Disaster Strike 2010: Portland
Host: Kevin Manahan
November 17-21, 2010
Disaster Strike 2011: New York City
Host: Kristen Henning
June 16-19, 2011
Disaster Strike 2012: San Francisco
Host: James Park
May 18-20, 2012
DISASTER STRIKE: It's two straight dudes who just love to party until they don't understand what's happening right in front of them. Well, this time, it's on James's home turf to celebrate my birthday. Let the anarchy begin.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"21 years"

"21 years"
a sort-of-coming-of-age poem by jake kilroy.

i remember when nothing was sacred.
it was after the orange groves,
after the model homes,
but before the shopping center.
i spent a summer in a friend's basement,
lovesick and somehow heartless,
learning guitar when i wasn't swimming
and yet gasping for air without a place to be.
i discovered panic in the spring
and developed obsession by fall.
america let me drink that summer.
it was darn good of them.
not that i needed another reason
to laugh.

Monday, May 14, 2012

"a new lost generation"

"a new lost generation"
written after a weekend of grins by jake kilroy.

we wanted to own,
but we settled to rent,
just as we sought marriage,
but took romantic getaways instead.
we built empires out of memories
and lost our way home.
so why wouldn't we dream?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Romelle Whiskey & Croquet Social Club

Just in case you were wondering how I spent my Saturday afternoon... welcome to the Romelle Whiskey & Croquet Social Club.

Friday, May 11, 2012

"nights as cool as silver"

"nights as cool as silver"
written without sleeping for days by jake kilroy.

merciless crows wearing coats of blackbird feathers,
sucking at the air like the corn is in season,
gasping for breath between the telephone wires;
no good flies for the whiskey bread pudding,
left out all night in the easy breeze of spring chill,
we all gathered around on the porch to slack jaws
and count our blessings on rusted stars above.
no bliss tucked in a flask, readymade for lust.
tongue clicks in the desolate swell of the night
with prayer canons shooting off mouths 'til dusk.
old rye stuck in your gums, settling in your throat.
murderous beds with hope notched on the wood posts,
always loving and leaving out the window to the roof
and keep kicking our heels in the dirt of long winding roads,
of which we begged for forgiveness, but got what we wanted,
the silence that pierced our cheeks like birds shattered by the wind,
with stories piling up in our guts until we found it difficult to wheeze,
finally left without reason or sense, burying our heads in water,
so we can talk ourselves out of staying put and never wasting our laugh.

"swallowing diamonds"

"swallowing diamonds"
written after a birthday by jake kilroy.

swallowing diamonds in the dive bar of heaven,
we crack jokes like gods crack the sky,
and we cough up gold dust in a hokey laugh,
praying in the wrong church to all the right women,
trampling over each other to pay homage to the blonde.

pals and gals, this time out on the town,
hoping for a first-rate second chance,
waiting out eternities in candy stores
and pizza shops and beer patios.

that's all we want,
and maybe a few pints of grace,
to toast our broken bones and sore muscles,
all from the beatings we took as romantics,
sworn brothers with hearts that conquer
greater lands than history could ever imagine.
so we sang songs in the beat chords of youth,
wasting another night in the small city,
waiting for the world to open up to us
like a woman in bed with the moonlight thin
through the blinds, with a rough purr,
as we hope to hear every girl we adore
read our palms and tell our sorry souls
that we'll find a better home this year.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

On Birthdays, Aging, Life & Happiness: Some Thoughts & Musings

"We're getting old. We know who they are now." - Shane, a coworker reflecting on celebrity deaths

"My biggest fear is that we'll just stop being rad all the time." - Jeff, considering the future of us as adults

"We're getting to that age where threesomes are more weird than cool." - James, explaining how he gauges aging

I observed these three quotes this week, and they made me consider aging. And I suppose my birthday did too. I turned 27 today, and I find that birthdays make me all...reflectiony.

This happens every year, just as I think it should. Birthdays, to me, are a time where you evaluate how things are going. Sure, people do this on New Year's Eve and Valentine's Day, but birthdays are this weird day where you're praised for not dying or killing yourself (Hey, you still exist! Woo!), so it's a pretty generous day.

I mean, at its core, birthdays are a day when everyone takes time to acknowledge that they really like having you around. Just as Valentine's Day is for showing your love, birthdays are for showing your appreciation and, well, all the other good vibe emotions too. You didn't do anything special to warrant all the good attention. You just lived your life according to you and everyone thinks you're doing a swell, bang-up job.

So, I try to take this day and do a life evaluation of sorts, just because who knows when I'll be subtly and indirectly told that I'm doing a swell, bang-up job?

And what's my verdict?

I'm happy.

I'm wildly fucking happy.

And it's been a long time since I wasn't.

Sure, there's always more you can ask for (more riches, more babes, more sweater vests, a solid gold jacuzzi, etc), but I'm extraordinarily happy. In the last year, I moved into a wonderful house with wonderful people and scored somewhat of a dream job (also with wonderful people).

And, in the last year, I finished writing, editing and rewriting my 600-page novel, wrote a kids book and am currently 90% done with a feature-length screenplay. I continued writing poems and started sending them out again. I also submitted an essay/poetry/story/rant collection to about 75 literary agents. I went to Mexico, Big Sur and Joshua Tree a few times. I also saw the magnificent giant that is New York City for the first time and had one of the greatest experiences of my life off the Oregon Coast at some seaside mansion.

What I'm saying is, hey, I'm doing alright.

And I feel like this every year.

Since summer of 2009, I feel as though I've really got a solid grasp on adult happiness. So, naturally, this whole long whatever to come below will be self-indulgent and better suited for a diary. I mean, how much do I really have to muse on if I know I'm happy? Well, it's my birthday and I'm gonna muse some shit anyway. I can tell you now that it's going to be partial-educated-thoughtful-man and semi-dopey-gleeful-idiot.

I know how I sound. I once told a friend, "I sound like a cross between a grad student and Fry from Futurama." I know I don't blend it all that well sometimes. Catch me during the day and I could act like this is my first time ever trying to handle anything, but find me at night and I'd like to discuss the merits of humanity. I run a strange course.

The point is to be self-aware. A few things I do that are weird:
  • I'm touchy-feely. Literally, not emotionally. I touch people's shoulders and faces as part of jokes, and that's a pretty serious invasion of space. And I do it to both dudes and dudettes. I go for a lot of high-fives, hugs and back rubs. I didn't use to do this. I swear I haven't always been this creepy. I honestly think it started happening after Bret explained that touch was one of the five love languages. It's not even mine. Words is my love language. But I started doing it for whatever reason and haven't stopped. 
  • I tell the same stories over and over. It was a lot easier to be track of things when I was younger. I had experienced less. But now I just ramble. It's like a disease. But, then again, being a writer has a few qualities of disease.
You need to know yourself and what you want from the world. For me, it was seeing it. Hell, you need to know where you've been. By this age, I figure I should've completed ten good, radical, life-changing, life-affirming trips.

10 Good Trips I've Taken:
  1. Europe, 2003
  2. Australia, 2005
  3. Arizona, 2005
  4. Northern California, 2005
  5. Tennessee, 2006
  6. Boston, 2007
  7. Europe/Africa, 2008
  8. Canada, 2008
  9. Oregon Coast, 2011
  10. New York City, 2011
And you need to be able to name an incredible moment from each of those trips:
  1. I was 18 years old, just starting out for the world, and I watched the sun set over Paris while on a boat ride down the Seine River, and, suddenly, the city of lights came to life. Also, my hand was up a girl's shirt moments before, if I recall correctly. But I watched the whole city glow in an instant, and it was the evening of summer solstice, so we all knew we had a long night of music ahead.
  2. After wanting to visit Sydney my whole life, my grandmother and I took in an opera at the Sydney Opera House, drank red wine and listened to the city cheer for nothing in particular. We took the long way home and the skyline was apparent from every angle. You could hear ships in the harbor and the laughter of drunkards. We were dressed up and the city overwhelmed me. It was so very much more than I had hoped for, and I hoped for a whole goddamn lot.
  3. Rex and I got to Arizona sometime around midnight and was handed two beers from the two women we were crashing with, and then we went swimming. It was the middle of June, it was hot as hell, and then the great sky cracked and poured. We swam around in the pouring rain with lightning and thunder rolling the world above us while we drank. The four of us stayed up until we simply couldn't stay awake any longer.
  4. Maybe the most I've ever reflected on myself, I spent two weeks with my family camping throughout Northern California. I don't know what the hell was happening then, but I thought I was seeing visions into the future and coming to terms with mortality. I remember Mendocino looking like a place I had in my dreams and I started trying to write my first novel. I was 20, and I had never felt so much like I was in some lucid dream. In particular, I remember playing a card game in a tent with my family one night. It was the only night I've ever seen my dad drunk. He had too much red wine to drink and I saw him as a friend of sorts instead of a father figure. We laughed for hours playing card games while the frogs croaked in the river behind us.
  5. After leaving Bonaroo early to take our adventure on the road, Grant and I barreled through Kentucky and Illinois sometime around 2 a.m. It was nothing but high trees on both sides and the sky was awash with stars. Due to some idiotic notion on my part, we headed onto another highway, very much out of our way in search of the fabled Eddysville. But what we found was a creepy church, a rainstorm and the empty plains bathed in harrowing moonlight where the town was supposed to be. Naturally, we got the fuck out of Dodge as quick as our rented car could take us. It was the most spooked I'd ever been.
  6. In what could easily be considered one of the the wildest 24 hours I've ever had, Ryan and I took a bus from the big city of Boston to the small town of Northampton. We were couch-surfing, so we stayed with a girl we hadn't met. The town was tiny and surrounded by deep woods and rivers. The girls all attended a barbecue without us and, for some reason, the girl was kind enough to just let us stay at her house unattended. We got drunk on her balcony, met the neighbor girl, went to the local Feist show and then ended up at a bar called World War II, where we proceeded to successfully pose as wayward weirdos born and raised in Boston, making friends with everyone in the bar. The story gets crazier from there, but not so much on my end. I was recently in love, so I went to sleep. But I lost Ryan to the night and a girl with a backpack. Ryan ended up sleeping on the balcony after getting lost in the woods looking for an abandoned asylum with a girl. We got on the bus and both started cackling.
  7. After months apart with my girlfriend at the time studying in Spain, my friends all chipped in some hundreds of dollars and sent me to Europe. I was beat down from the flight over, but she gave me a tour of Madrid around midnight. And everything seemed so old and dazzling. I had missed her and it was hard to grasp just what was happening. We walked for hours. The lights were beautiful, the cobblestones glowed in lamplight and it was a glorious spring. It was one of the best walks of my life.
  8. After stumbling out of a bar beneath our hostel, Ryan, Jeff, Chase, myself and the locals all caught up with each other. Drunk as hell on the streets of Vancouver after a few hours of slamming pints into each other, I decided we needed to move on. I had a lady back home, but I wanted to see what kind of wingman magic I could unravel. So, I started introducing myself to everyone, chatting up ladies and finding their interests, so I could bring them to my jolly friends. Once we were settled up, I rounded a dozen or so people and lead a growing army of drinkers. As we marched up the street, I talked up more people and had them join. We all ended up in a bar with a live ska band. We drank, danced and laughed until we ended up on the other side of town.
  9. I was on drugs and there was dancy indie pop music. It may have been the greatest night of my life. There were glowing plastic necklaces and bracelets on everyone. About a dozen of us, all people I adore, were staying at a seaside mansion. At some point, we danced around the kitchen island in a line screaming a Beatles song. Everyone was stoked on everything. There was food everywhere. I smoked enough cigarettes to last me a season. We stayed up until 4 or 5 a.m. And, all the while, we left the windows open so we could hear the ocean softly crash into the earth.
  10. I've wanted to see New York City my whole life, but, for whatever reason, I put it off. Maybe I was afraid how to feel once I did see it. Then James and I decided to go for it. I remember smoking a cigarette on the fire escape of Kristin's apartment. James was showering, I think, and Kristin was getting us our bedding for the living room. But I sat there and listened to the sounds of the city and thought, yep, this is what I was hoping for, big buildings with insomniacs that want to swallow as much culture as they can under a heavy moon.
But, when you're not traveling, be sure of things that can and will make you happy.

Random things I know are true about what I like:
  • Favorite Song: "Tenderly" by Chet Baker
  • Favorite Live Show: Against Me! at Chain Reaction, 2004
  • Favorite Restaurant Meals: White Pizza at Cassano's, Fake Cashew Chicken at Wheel of Life, Crispy Rolls at Loving Hut
  • Favorite Homecooked Meals: croque mousier, rolled pizza, taco salad 
  • Best Thing I've Ever Watched: Baseball by Ken Burns
Thinking about any of those things legitimately brings a smile to my face. There are people, places, music,  movies, meals and whatever that I know for sure will make me happy, which I suppose isn't that difficult. I'm a happy dude, and I have been for years. But I cite my summer in Seattle three years ago as a real turning point because who/how I was in May wasn't who I was in August. And it was surely for the best.

Before I moved to Seattle, I was living in what felt like the ashy cinders of an era. My house was growing stale, my relationship was growing stale, my career was growing stale. I was unemployed, about to move back in with my parents and in the process of breaking up. I was also in terrible fucking shape. I was just eating Del Taco, candy and vermicelli bowls. I wasn't doing a goddamn thing to better myself, and it was pretty obvious. I had a gut, a beard and a sense of oblivion.

Thumbs up, me.

So, in Seattle, I reclaimed some weird second youth and spent the most enchanting summer since I was 15 done up as a 24-year-old in desperate need of a life makeover. I had nothing to do and nowhere to be for months. And neither did Chris, though he was establishing a life there and trying to find work. During the day, we'd go swimming or wandering around our new city. At night, we'd either go to a party or stay in to work on our screenplay, drunk on bloody marys and red wine.

I lost the beard, the gut and the terrible habits. I came home more about salads, sandwiches and a healthier outlook. In Seattle, I was removed from all that was familiar to me for the summer. And it wasn't even a whole summer. It was just less than two months of serious reinvention and one I haven't gone back on. I was a spiteful mess before Seattle, and, since then, I've been kind of the same shrugging stoked dude for the most part.

Naturally, I've had some eras throughout the/my ages:
  • 1-3: Nonsensical Idiot
  • 4-13: Spastic Jokester
  • 14-17: Teenage Romantic
  • 18-21: Social Philosopher
  • 22-24: Reckless Cavalier
  • 25-Present: Happy-Go-Lucky Dude
In my years, I haven't had many long-lasting moments of "ah, drag." I don't know what the hell it was, but, again, I went through some weird period of ferocious carelessness and overcompensating self-loathing in my early twenties. It was pretty stupid. No, actually, it was really stupid. I had moments of being irrational, bitter, condescending and spiteful. And, for whatever insane reason, I took pride in it. Maybe I thought it meant I had an edge? I don't know. I just think that, for two years, I acted like I wasn't getting enough sleep. And it may not have seemed that extreme to others, because I was still pretty stoked about everything, but I honestly look back at those years and just think, hey, what the fuck was that all about? And it wasn't about anything. It really wasn't. That's why it's so stupid. But, again, I was still pretty gosh darn excited about life. I just maybe wasn't the best participant all the time.

However, I consider junior high to be my actual low point, as I assume it to be the same for half of the American population. That was a semi-miserable two years of wondering if the world would chew me up or have the decency to just swallow me whole. But it was a tremendously exciting and fun time too. I wasn't really bullied. I was teased every once in a while by the shithead skater kids whose parents didn't love them. I know this because I went to elementary school with a few of them and their parents only loved cigarettes and television. Their teasing was so minimal, but, at that age, everyone has something to prove and you're unsure in your own skin.

Still, junior high held some radically great memories. I use the phrase "low point" very, very loosely, I suppose. I've been exceptionally blessed in my life, and this lucky realization came to me during an eighth grade slump. Something happened and I was in trouble with my parents. I think it was for grades, but I was probably already anxious because of some frantic crush or sexual feeling I couldn't explain.

Anyway, my father, rather tensely, told me that I was grounded and couldn't go out and have fun for a month.

In my barely-teenage lunacy, I scoffed and replied, "Yeah, if I haven't killed myself by then."

My father wisely took no sympathy upon me. He was pissed. He gritted his teeth and told me that what I said was appalling and shouldn't be tossed around so lightly, that it showed no respect to all that I had and to those who really did have something to be sad about. Then, still through gritted teeth, told me, "You don't get to use the computer."

To which, with tears forming (I was an emotional teenager, alright?), I complained about the unfairness of such a punishment and how he should be concerned about me and my problems. But, going to bed that evening (early, of course), I realized, "Wait a minute. I was ready to end my life, but not give up computer privileges? What the hell is that bullshit?" I later thanked my father. He had called my bluff. Anger is not always the proper way to react to your child's talk of suicide. However, my father could read me well, and he knew I was being melodramatic. It's a tough, tough call, I imagine. But it was one that my father made well.

And, I swear, since that day in eighth grade, I've tried to appreciate life and recognize the wonderful as wonderful and the terrible as passing. It's a goofy moment to deem a real turning point in one's life, but that's the last time I ever recall really feeling like life was dragging its bones. It was the first time I realized that I honestly had no desire to leave life until I was forced to, whether by bear, shark or poisoning.

So, to recap, I realized that life was worth living at 13, but it wasn't until I was 24 that I figured out how easy it is to find comfortable long-lasting happiness. I was happy as hell in my late-teens and early twenties, but there were sharp moments of angst in those too. Everything was a lot more confusing then. I was happy, but baffled, I guess.

But, again, I feel I must stress how particularly lucky I've been in my existence. I mean, I've been spectacularly, incredibly, amazingly lucky and blessed in almost every realm of life.

My parents have supported everything I've ever done (from turning our house into a restaurant in first grade to getting a print journalism degree in an era when everyone decided that newspapers should be used as kindling). My sister and brother are two of my best friends (and, yes, that cliche made my stomach turn too). I've had friend after friend blow me away by their intelligence, creativity, humor and excitement for adventure. And I've had woman after woman tolerate my slapstick way of loving and flat-out floor me with their ability to appreciate, give, surprise and explore.

As I write this, I realize how disgustingly happy I've been almost my whole life. At some point, all of my family, friends and ladyfolk have realized that I'm not just making small talk when I say, "Holy shit, what a beautiful day," or go on and on about how much I'm enjoying just sitting around a backyard drinking. Life as a middle-class American is fucking rad, especially if you consider the only other option, that tremendous black hole known as death.

My mother lost her brother when he was in his thirties. She had just turned forty. My uncle was a family man and an entrepreneur. He died of a heart attack in his sleep. My mom and her siblings were and are close. But, still, she once told me (after a tiff with a sibling), "You never want to go to bed angry with your family. They might not be there tomorrow."

I knew what she was saying, even as a dopey, spastic sixth grader who couldn't stop talking. It became a whisper in my heart that I always try to live by, though I haven't always done so. I've lucked out so far. Nobody I've been pissed at has died on me yet. Sometimes, people piss me off. But I think about what my mother says every time I get upset and I usually apologize or see that the situation settles (as, I'll be honest, I don't always feel it necessary to apologize). There were three straight years of my sister and I getting into  intense arguments over board games on Christmas Day. It was always my father, my brother and her versus my mother and me, and, apparently, we don't take charades lightly.

But I always made sure we made up by December 26th.

And, to be fair, it usually wasn't me being the hero. By the end of Christmas Day, when neither of us had changed out of our pajamas, with nacho cheese and sour candy sugar dotting our robes, we'd both kind of nod or shrug or blink or wince, and somehow that meant that we were done with our bullshit.

My sister, my brother and I were both raised my parents that advocated joy and tolerance. In fact, my father's famous quote was that, one day, the three of us would be "strong, healthy, confident adults." He said those four words in that order all the time. I guess that's what I've always been shooting for, even as a kid.

I think the first time I caught myself rolling my head in the quiet moments of adult life was when I was 17. I finally had a license, so the world was now available to me. And I decide to spend a summer afternoon at the Orange Circle, eating Felix's rice and beans while drinking a hot chocolate. I was smoking a cigarette and doing a crossword puzzle. I had nothing on the agenda and no interest in doing anything else. The world came to me and unfolded itself.

What was the big secret?

Just do what makes you happy.

Now, that's an overreaching simplification of what it means to be happy. You need to make a living and go to events you don't want to. Do what makes you happy, but acknowledge that it won't be all the time.

But people don't know what to do with their free time, and they don't seem to appreciate it for what it is. They appreciate it for what it isn't.

"It's my day off, so the big plus is that I don't have to work," they may think.


It should be, "It's my day off, so the big plus is that I get to go buy used books and go swimming."

I had a long talk with Jason and Grant the other night. We discussed the act of creating and how much we value it, only to be baffled by those who don't. Some people just want to go home from a mediocre job and watch television. They have no interest in writing, painting or jamming.

At any age, even without creation hobbies, I feel like a person should have at least one activity that they can depend on for themselves. It shouldn't include anyone. For me, it's writing. But, take that way, I could still come up with things I like doing and bring about an absurd amount of happiness. When I was 17, it was smoking a cigarette and doing a crossword puzzle. When I was 20, it was going on a bike ride. Now, it's reading a book on my back porch. Sometimes, it's enough to just eat crispy rolls in bed with the window open.

It really doesn't take much to make me happy these days. I'm usually in a pretty good mood. And, if I'm not, just a song can turn me around for the better. Its not an act either. Even by myself, I remain generally stoked. Though my mother would ask it as, "So that stokes you?"

But, despite my jolly nature, I've notice a gargantuan shift in how deep my happiness goes. When I was, say, 20, all it took was a bike ride to put me at maximum happiness. But, back then, my scale was only 1-10. My scale now is 1-100. It's harder to reach the maximum happiness, but I can honestly say that the happiness runs deeper. Maybe a bike ride only puts me at a 70 now. Well, it's not the highest possible, but it's certainly a lot more than 10. When I'm happy now, I feel it in my bones. When I was 20, happiness was only skin-deep.

My happiness in the future is up for grabs, and I couldn't even begin to guess what it is. However, I will say that this past year was the first time that I could actually see myself married with kids in the near future. Also, when I say "near future," I just mean that I don't think I have to go through some insane transformation anymore. When I consider marriage and kids now, I no longer think, "Holy fuck, I need to get my shit together before that ever happens." I think I could make a good husband and father as this dude I am now.

I understand adulthood now. I get it. I value saving money and feel accomplished paying bills. It legitimately excites me to have good credit. I understand the difference between Del Taco and Mr. Stox, just as I understand why sometimes blue jeans aren't appropriate attire. I know what shitty beer and good beer both are, and I know when to drink them. You don't have to stop eating fast food, wearing blue jeans and drinking cheap beer. I just think you should know the difference.

And, no, adulthood is not a defeat. I don't know who's filling my friends' heads with bullshit, but a family doesn't kill the big stuff. Yes, over the years, we can most likely expect to stop falling asleep drunk in the same room together. Yes, at some point, we won't find much interest in sleeping past ten a.m. Yes, we'll have more obligations and obstacles. But that doesn't mean weekend getaways and afternoon barbecues have to stop forever. Don't we all want our kids to be raised together? Don't we all want our spouses to be friends with each other? Don't we all plan on having the coolest social network back-to-school night's ever seen?

Everything will get more difficult soon, but everything will also get much more rewarding. We'll start serving real purpose. Granted, I say this as someone who's not in a serious committed relationship and admit that the second word of the phrase "pregnancy scare" strikes up more feelings in me than the first. But family life seems good: Sunday brunches, school projects, dinner parties, etc. It all seems warm and enchanting.

However, I'm also the same guy who puked on his bedroom floor this year and has wandered his house naked in a drunken stupor on two occasions in the last six months. Yes, that's right: this year and two occasions.

I'd say that's about it. Life is good, and it isn't always that way. Right now, it is though. I have no big fears for the future and no huge regrets of the past. I like where I've been, I like where I am and I like where I'm going. And, as a middle class American suburban white twenty-something writer, I really couldn't ask for much more than that.

Here's five things I've learned and kept as a way of living:
  • Remember that nothing is eternal.
    • If it's good, you better appreciate the hell out of it before it's gone.
    • If it's bad, don't worry, seeing as how it'll all be over soon.
  • Make time for what keeps you sane.
    • The fall semester of my last year in college, I was working 60 hours a week, going to school full-time and doing my uninformed best at keeping a long-distance relationship together. For three months, I really only saw Rex and it was because he was willing to play basketball with me at midnight in a park with the lights off.
    • These days, I make sure to spend at least one afternoon or even writing. It's not much, but, holy shit, it keeps me sane.
  • Stay in reasonable shape.
    • You have to take care of yourself. It's unfair for women to demand their men look like Ryan Reynolds if they don't look like Mila Kunis, just as its unfair for men to demand their women look like Olivia Wilde if they don't look like Justin Timberlake. Just because you're in a relationship doesn't mean you get to grow fat with a beard. Trust me, I've been there. It was unfair to everyone involved.
    • A lack of exercise will doom your brain tremendously. Stay physically fit, and you'll be more mentally and emotionally fit, suggesting that you'll ultimately be nicer to people, which brings me to my next point.
  • Just be nice to people.
    • Two religious women were making the rounds one afternoon, and I answered the door with Jason. They asked if I was interested in hearing about the word of God. I answer, "I'm going to respectfully pass, but I wish you two the best of luck today." The next day, Jason told me that he had never thought of answering religious people that way. It always felt like they were invading his space. I told him, "I figure they have the best intentions. I mean, they're spending their afternoon trying to keep me and my neighbors from the depths of Hell. The least I could do is be nice to them."
    • I was hanging out with Chase once. We were either in a car or at a restaurant. A homeless man asked for some money to help his family. Without thinking, Chase gave the guy a few bucks. I thoughtlessly made a joke along the lines of, "And off he goes to procure some booze." Chase smiled and said to me, "Who knows? I mean, what the hell was I going to do with that money? Just buy cigarettes or booze myself anyway. That guy's going to help his family or buy some booze. Either way, he's begging for it, which means he probably needs it more than I do." Since that day, I always try give at least something if I have it on me.
    • People working retail and other customer-engaging jobs have it hard. Why? Because they interact with everyday people and their everyday problems. Ask them how they're doing and be friendly. They won't always be nice back, but, hey, you tried. Also, hey, people working retail and other customer-engaging jobs, be nice to your customers. They're just everyday people with everyday problems. I was a waiter for five years. I know it's not that hard to be nice to your customers, even when you're busy and they aren't wildly friendly. Just be nice.
  • Make life cinematic.
    • Cool big gestures and thoughtful little presents aren't just for movies and television shows. People can do these things. This isn't even, like, hey, go base-jumping or start bar fights. I just mean that there are chances for you, your family and your friends to do really magnificent things for each other. I'm not going to go into detail about my life's cinematic moments, but I can recall them, from building a full restaurant in my backyard with friends as a college student in love to crashing a wedding in Mexico. There are just chances for you to think of life as a movie and really not settle for this lesser bullshit.
    • One of my favorite television cute moments was my last birthday when my mom asked what I wanted. I told her I always wanted a dragon, but I'd settle for books and clothes. True to my mom's eternal thoughtful form, I unwrapped a present to find, low and behold, a stuffed dragon.
In every era of my life, I've thought, I wish this could last. I don't know why the coming years would be any different. Sure, I'll always want to revisit the days of my garage, Shirley's house, Julia's house, Wall's house, the Mira Mesa House, The Madison, Entrepreneur Magazine, The Daily Titan, WebVisible, Seattle and so on, but where would be the happiness? What good is the joke if you've already heard the punchline? Change isn't bad. I haven't hit a birthday where I've been disappointed in myself, my family, my friends and where we are as a collective. I like aging. I like the change of scenery. I like new opportunities to be happy. I like watching people close to me grow and develop. I like that people are getting married and having kids now, just as I liked those same people getting drunk and passing out face-down in the floor. People in my life have always been gracious, generous and goofy. As Batman would say, PEOPLE ARE GOOD. And how hard is it to be happy in a part of the world where a milkshake and and a beach is within bike-riding distance?

Sometimes, bro, life is so rad, man.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Jake vs. His Grandma: A Debate About America

I love the hell out of my grandmother. She's mouthy and tells you exactly what's on her mind. She loved a movie? She'll tell you. She thinks what you're wearing is stupid? She'll tell you. I used to go over to her house after my restaurant shift on Friday nights to watch movies and we'd get into these funny back-and-forths about me getting married and giving her great-grandchildren (in my heyday of drunken 21-year-old idiocy). She and I spent three weeks together in Australia without killing each other (though the night before we left, we sat on opposite beds and she asked if I could "stop being so fucking stupid," to which I responded with "I'll fucking kill you, Grandma!"). She's put up with a lot over the years, including one hilarious jousting match of me in my car and my brother on an electric scooter out in front of her house. So it would make sense that we don't agree on politics, and our differences have lead to some interesting family meals. I never bring it up, but I always feel it necessary to retaliate.

Well, today, when Obama finally announced his official support for same-sex marriage, the first person I thought of was my grandma. So I emailed her. Then she emailed me. And so on. She used to be a little more liberal, but she's pretty standard conservative these days. We've had a few small debates about gay marriage, though I think we were both afraid of what we'd say to each other if they went the full rounds. But, here, now in text, is the back-and-forth of a twenty-something liberal and his seventy-something conservative grandmother.

Grandma dearest,

I may not agree with Obama on many a-things, but I can tell you that he for sure secured my vote with affirming his support for same-sex marriage.



Call it something else!!

Webster says marriage is the joining of a man and woman for the purpose of founding and maintaining a family.

There is a generation gap here.

It also defines equality: the state of being equal, esp. in status, rights, and opportunities.

"If you have to make a law that hurts a number of people just to prove your morals or faith, then you have no true morals or faith to prove."

I admit there's a generation gap here, but, come on, let's say I was gay. You wouldn't support my wedding because I called it marriage? You would go on telling me that I shouldn't have called it marriage? I'd be the same sort of husband or father. Whether I was straight or gay, I could maintain a family.

Call it something else, eh? So it could be like...separate but equal?

The quote--who?

It's a quote that's being passed around online. It wasn't said by any notable person, as far as I know. Honestly, I think some twenty-something did it up on an e-card and then it went viral. 

It's double talk!

I think that's part of the humor of the quote, that people vote certain ways to protect their morals, but it hurts people, which isn't so moral.

"No American president has ever supported a major expansion of civil rights that has not ultimately been adopted by the American people, and I have no doubt that this will be no exception." - Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York

Just wondering if you agree with the quote above. Let's say it's the year 2075. Don't you think high school students years from now are going to learn history and be embarrassed for our generations for taking so long to just pass same-sex marriage? I do. I'm sad that, in just my parents era, white kids and black kids weren't allowed to go to school together. America's a funny place.

Do you know black men could vote before women?

Many things should not have even been law (not giving women the right to vote and segregation), but we have changed those laws. 

I have just finished a book about the death penalty, especially how inhumane the gas chamber is.  And I do agree to do away with the death penalty----would I feel that way if one of my friends or family member was murdered?.  An eye for an eye? The world is not a perfect place, but we are still working on it.

Gay pride---I'm not there yet.

Received in the mail today a slur sheet about not voting for Deborah Pauley.  I find that to be absolutely dirty politics.  Do I want to vote for someone who has to bring down his opponent to gain votes?  Tell me what changes you are working on.  And I am not a fan of Deborah.

You got me on a roll, Jake.

How about Congress who changed the law that they can be buried in Arlington National Cemetery if they served in the military.  It originally was for men and woman who received the Purple Heart, Medal of Honor etc.  A regular Joe who served (and did not receive the medals mentioned) cannot be buried there,  Therefore we have Ted Kennedy buried there who many consider a murderer.  And, by the way. I am eligible to be buried there because I am the wife of a Purple Heart veteran.

Let's change the world, Jake!!!

I think it's outrageous that women couldn't vote in this country until the 20th Century. European countries were already allowing it, and we, the young edgy upstart nation, took that long. Men and women are equal in their participation in the movement of this country. Why it took until 1920 for America to finally get it is beyond me.

I've never served in the military, but I hold a high place in my respect list for those who have. War is a terrifying, brutal landscape that I have a hard time wrapping my head around. Fighting overseas is an incredible dedication to this country and its citizens. I agree that it's quite a change from a cemetery for those awarded with the nation's highest honors to one for all of those who have served, but a soldier is still a man or woman of guts to me, and a cemetery dedicated to the military is fine by me. Obviously, there's a huge difference between a highly decorated career soldier and a kid who served for one tour, but both are unfathomable to me. Ted Kennedy did serve, but he also used his father's connections to get out of Korea, from what I understand, so I might agree with you in that instance. 

Dirty politics are bogus. They'll forever be a part of the system, and I'll forever wish them not to be. However, politicians should point out flaws in policy accordingly. They just shouldn't rely so heavily on it. There's only a slight difference between attacking an opponent and reasonably arguing against what they bring to the table. But that can't be the only thing. That's a negative campaign, and it's why the Democrats bothered the shit out of me years ago. They were just "anti-Bush" instead of being "pro-anything." It was incredibly lazy. They're a much stronger party, as I think Obama is a reasonable and articulate figurehead and the Democrats aren't so lost anymore. Right now, Romney and Obama should both me telling the country what they believe in and what they support while adding their critiques of and objections to their opponent's polices. I don't want both of them just point out what the other person's doing wrong. I want them to add in a lot of what they'll both do right. I think they're doing an ok job of that so far.

As for gay pride, I have gay friends and gay coworkers, and it's crazy to me to look at them and think, "There are actually people out there that are actively donating millions of dollars to make sure you never get married." Entire groups are trying to propose this idea that gay culture will ruin or takeover the country. One Million Moms, some group of batshit crazy people, tried to get Ellen Degeneres kicked off of JC Penney's advertisements because she would instill the wrong family values to kids. Are they serious? Is there anyone more delightful and nicer to people than Ellen?  It's things like that which bother me so much. This is systematically campaigning against gay culture. Hollywood does up these stupid bogus stereotypes of gays and lesbians as some kind of army of shallow sex maniacs. It's bullshit. It's uneducated bullshit. It makes for cheap laughs and I can't believe people actually buy into that kind of insanity. Also, nobody is choosing to be gay. Nobody is choosing a lifestyle of being bullied and getting the shit kicked out of them at school. I can't all of a sudden choose to be attracted to men, just as a gay man can't choose to be attracted to women. That should be the end of the argument. It's just who you are as a person. Why do people think being gay is this really cool subculture that people are just deciding to be a part of as if it's some hip passing trend? Do you know how awful bullies are to gay teenagers? And then they get into adulthood, a world filled with informed and intelligent fully grown adults, and they get to hear, "We figured if you got married, it would ruin our marriage." How? How does a gay marriage somehow ruin the sanctity of other marriages? How are people this self-involved? I don't want that for the future. I want a country that says you're a man or a woman and you can marry a man or a woman. Also, people who say, "Oh, well, what's next? People marrying pets?" Somebody should punch them in the head. That's one of the dumbest things ever spoken in the English language. I don't want to deprive people of happiness over terminology. I think it's insane that straight marriages can legally last a day and gay partners that have been monogamous for two decades don't get to be hitched. I honestly think that's one of the most awful things I've ever heard. If this is the issue of my generation, I hope to hell we get it right soon.

I'm sorry for this rant. You certainly didn't invite this and I apologize for rambling like this. The North Carolina thing really pissed me off yesterday and I'm just so happy to have the leader of this country say that he approves of gay marriage today. I'm prouder to be an American today than I was yesterday.

We are on a roll----let's continue this tonight!!

We are! But I think I started this up through e-mail because I feel political talk takes the good vibes out of the room whenever the family gets into it. But I'm looking forward to celebrating Blair's birthday at your house! Woo!

Also, I don't think it needs to be said, but I'll say it anyway: despite us disagreeing on most political issues, I'll always consider you one of the smartest, sweetest, coolest people around, and I love you dearly. Thanks in advance for having us over tonight and always being willing to feed me.

You are the best......

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Five Music Videos You Should Watch Right Now

1. "Queen Of Hearts" by Fucked Up

2. "Four Winds" by Bright Eyes

3. "Lessons Learned" by Matt And Kim

4. "Good Time" by Brazilian Girls

5. "Swim Until You Can't See Land" by Frightened Rabbit

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Old Flames XVII: A Merciless Construct

I'm sure you could call it society after enough poker games. Grill up the sun and serve it to the earth. Beg the rainwater to be a dinner guest. Feed it famine and call it politics. Never churn up old memories of swimming at the lake, so you can sleep at night. Forget all that once was laughter. Dazzle the night sky with fireworks built from glistening beads of sweat from a prairie rainstorm. Kick up your heels against the fence. Tilt the chair back. Dip your head. Appreciate your underwear wardrobe. And watch the great sky above you shake.

This is when you'll whistle, and it'll be heard around the world. You'll write letters to beckon it back. You'll become pen pals with the wind. You'll keep a diary of dirt. Rusted in the murky swamps of mankind will be the thoughts you left out to dry in Hell. Oh, gods, what foolish mortals us liars be.

Radiate, radiate, radiate! I witnessed the beauty. I caught sight of the slip. It was just a utopian wink, a currency in the better lands. But all we have are our books. Thank goodness for pillows. I was nearly executed as a dreamer. But they couldn't convict me for sleeping.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


written as something it wasn't supposed to be by jake kilroy.

we'd all love to listen to the velvet underground,
waist-deep in cool river water,
scrubbing the hymns off our chests,
burying our feet in the silky mud,
and always wishing for something better.
we'd all love to speed down the humming road,
sucking in dusty air and coughing up pollen,
barreling our way across the promised land,
gasping for breaths in between stereo poems,
just as the junkyard artists did long before us,
as we strike gold in our hearts and keep digging,
slinking in and out of parlors for magic shows,
wasted enough to be far gone, but not quite lost.
yes, we'd all love to write home about bar fights
and spring flings and the riot we laughed
sometime after midnight when we thought
we were home for good, if only for an instant.
but this country, this spray paint mural of highways,
this magnificent land of whistlers and charmers,
this palm reading of a closed fist in the crowd,
it needs dynamite to move, twisting and shaking
on the dance floor in its best effort to stay in line,
so it can use sunsets as flashlights for nights
when no living soul gets eight hours of sleep.
but until we're moving money like dirty cops,
i say we've got another stretch of homeland to fix.
so you can tell the young jack keruoac gangsters
that we'll be sipping the pleasantries soon enough;
we just need to tie up our shoes and a few loose ends,
but then we're gunning for the door and a future
you couldn't lose in a card game if you tried.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

"Chuck & Carolina"

"Chuck & Carolina"
written for the eternal by jake kilroy.

The breeze tumbled across the road more often than cars did and the trees shrugged their usual July whispers. The lake was perfect and the downtown was filled with talkative locals. In the great turning of the world, there rolled a loud hum. It was summer, and it was glorious.

Up the wispy, melodramatic, lakeside street known as Cherrywood Road sat a girl on a porch step. She wore a sundress that looked like it had been sewn by birds. Standing above her, leaning against the columns of the house, was a slightly older gentleman with a button-up shirt tucked into his jeans, holding a tin cup. He wore boots and a shadow against his darkened cheekbones.

"You know, you're pretty when you're mad," he told her, drawing a line through his thin beard, his hand holding a cigarette with dirt beneath his nails. "But you're downright gorgeous when you're happy."

"So then take me dancing," she cooed, leaning over herself, squinting in the sunlight.

He leaned back and grinned almost too wide for his face, letting the smoke come from his nose like steam from a train. He bit his lip and rolled his powerful neck.

"Darling, you may be trouble. I'm an old man now. I wore out all my good dancing shoes ages ago."

She smiled helplessly.

"I may be younger, but you've got a young spirit, maybe even younger than mine," she told him.

"I'm sorry, sweetheart, but even artists in Paris aren't this hard up for youth," he drawled, the apology having echoed up from the great cavern of his chest. "No matter how teenage or wayward my heart is."

"Spirit, not heart," she corrected him softly.

"Hey, you've got your religion. I've got mine," he chuckled.

The rose petals of her cheeks fluttered.

"Chuck, if talking was an art, and it damn well should be, you'd be the love child of Vincent Van Gogh and Georgia O'Keefe."

"That right?" his voice boomed, as he tip-toed backward with a sultry step. It was a difficult feat against the whiney old wooden planks of the porch. They never shut up when he wanted them to.

"That's right," she answered, a warm breeze lapsing through the cave of her milk-white throat. "You're soft enough for flowers, but you're crazy enough to cut off your ear for love."

"Honey, you got it wrong," he crooned, as he dipped back and slung up the guitar tucked behind the firewood. "I'm soft enough to cut off my ear for love and crazy enough for flowers."

Her brow caved in on itself, as she wasn't sure what he meant. And neither did he. He looked at the sky, as if his own sly talk would be spelled out for him in burly white against the silk of the blue.

She looked back at him to follow up his nonsense speak, only to be surprised that a wooden guitar was now in his hands, held with the gentle cockiness of a prayer book.

"Oh, soft enough for guitar?" she laughed.

"Crazy enough for a song," he smiled.

"You know all the ways to a girl's heart, Chuck."

"Same way as always," he laughed. "Right through the front door."

Her eyebrows stood up and shook hands. She gave him the pitter-patter of her hands a whirl.

"Here goes," he sighed. His fingers trickled down the strings, and a folksy melody that could've been for the righteous or the wicked escaped from the wooden depths of the guitar's caverns.

"Gooooddaaaaaamn, the looonely meeeen; dreaming of the sea, buuuut broken by land," he sang.

From the side yard came a marching band drummer that Carolina recognized as one of the local boys that went swimming across the way. He played the snare hooked on him with an applause rhythm. She covered her mouth and her nose with her delicate hands.

"Sippiiiiiing cheap whiiiiskey on the shoreliiiine; just waiting on that old laughing sun to up and diiiiiiiie," he sang.

Then, from both sides of the porch, came the rest of the tucked away marching band: the horns, the woodwinds and the big drum.

And they all sang with Chuck, and they all played for Carolina. The lawn was filled with musical youths and a man who left his youth like a hometown.

"Daaaaarling, my heart is a biiiiiirdcage; just one red biiiiiird singiiiiing your name," he and his makeshift band sang together. "Now, I'm wonderiiiiiiing and consideriiiiiing; just leaving that tiny old steel gate wiiiiide open."

"Because!" he yelled, and the marching band played louder.

"My heart is a biiiird cage!" he sang alone, a melody that sounded chewed up and swallowed, nourishing to the last note.

"His heart is a biiiird cage!" sang the teenagers.

"Just one reeeeed bird!" he bellowed.

"Just one reeeeed bird!" they bellowed.

"And it's singing your name!" he cheered.

"And it's singing your name!" they cheered.

"My heart is a bird cage!" he hollered.

"My heart is a bird cage!" they hollered.

"And it's singiiiiiiiiiiiiiing," he crowed with all the teenagers stopping abruptly, and with one last swipe on his guitar, he whispered, "yoooour naaaaaame!"

By then, the neighbors had gathered, though Carolina didn't take any notice. She swung herself up from the steps and into Chuck's arms. The drummer caught the guitar. They smooched, and he carried her off to go dancing with the marching band following them into town, wailing away on their instruments, striking up reprise of the birdcage tune.

An older man, one with a woman on his arm, spoke up.

"The heat does something funny to young folks of this town," he cracked.

"We were young folks once," the woman on his arm corrected.

"But I never played guitar."

"You played violin, and you wrote me a symphony."

"It was the heat, I tell ya!"

The old couple laughed and followed the rest into town.