nothing in here is true

  1. Sunday, November 19, 2017

    toughest question I was asked all week 

    A very well meaning gentleman was tasked to help me on a project

    he said can you draw it up for me.

    I said no problem and in minutes I had it sketched out on a yellow legal pad using a blue pen

    then he said the most curious thing. He said can you show me an example somewhere where someone else had done it?

    I said have you ever met anyone like me?

    I asked in your whole life how many xbi agents have you met?

    even among uber drivers how many uber drivers do you know like me?

    I said I am here to do

    New Things

    Big things

    Cool things.

    Things that if they had been done already, I wouldn’t be interested in.

    No this hasn’t existed before and that’s why people are going to love it.

    He asked well what about that saying that there’s nothing new under the sun?

    I said I want you to listen to Pink Floyd’s greatest hits.

    Yes there were guitars and bass and drums and vocals and saxophones before Pink Floyd

    But there wasn’t Pink Floyd before or since.

    And that’s what we should all strive for: to express our own unique freakiness that never was before we got here.

    And one way to get there is to find the gaps where no ones ever been before.

    And trust me, the audience will follow us there.

  2. Saturday, November 18, 2017

    bon, who hadnt seen malcolm since 1980, gave him a hug 

    a nice long one.

    malcolm had been suffering for years of dementia

    which is torture for a creative soul.

    bon was all, i wanna introduce you to someone

    and there he was, jimi hendrix

    who handed him a thick 1949 Gibson ES-175, the first Gibson electric guitar to feature a Florentine cutaway beneath the neck, giving easy access to all 20 frets.

    it also had a carved rosewood bridge.

    the men plugged into three story high marshall stacks.

    john bonham sat down behind the drums

    and lemmy strapped on his bass.

    bon counted it out and they broke into Highway to Hell

    sarcastically, since they were in Heaven. surrounded by all the greats, many of whom always loved AC/DC and malcolm’s contribution to music, not just rock or hard rock, but damn good music you sing along to in the car

    or scream at the football game.

    shy little malcolm young, long hair over his eyes, peeks up every now and then watching the angels and saints

    tap their feet

    and welcome one of their own,


  3. Wednesday, November 15, 2017

    and another one 

    last night around 4am i woke up because i was having pains in my lower back and i had a shortness of breath.

    i went to the bathroom but i knew what it was, especially when i couldn’t pee: kidney stones.


    i fuddled around my pad trying to prepare for the super long wait in the ER and doing my best not to wake up Amber. but i failed at everything.

    i couldn’t find my sweat pants, i couldn’t find my cubs knit hat and i disturbed the pretty girl, who then put on her clothes and walked me to Kaiser Permanente, where i had delivered my previous two stones.

    that’s right, in four years working for the Academy, i have now had three kidney stones.

    i try to be a cool customer, and most of the time i pull it off but the two block walk was endless. every step hurt and when we finally made it to the hospital and they told us to go upstairs and walk to the ER i began crying.

    for so many reasons.

    the biggest reason is i know what is needed to end the pain: heroin. they dont call it that in the hospital, they call it Demerol or Morphine or some other less hysterical name but it’s heroin and once they inject it into you, your body relaxes, you get super pukey, and then you drift off into a beautiful daze.

    but when you enter the hospital, if you mention pain killers even once, the machine stops and you will be delayed your sweet reward for at least an hour. trust me, i know.

    so you suck it up. and it makes you cry because if you are someone like me who is not shy about communication, it kills you not to say, “please just one shot in the ass and we can do all the other things.”  because if you say that they think you’re an addict and uggggghhhhh.

    we get to the window and thank God i was already in the system due to the previous visits and Lord Above they don’t make me do any paperwork. Also, blessings upon blessings, theres only one other person in the entire waiting room.

    so a nurse hooks me up to the blood pressure machine and murphys law it doesnt seem to wanna work so im moaning and crying and writhing around in the seat. inside all i want to do is say “BRO MY BLOOD PRESSURE IS 1000 over 10 million, lets make this happen!” but you have to be cool.

    and cry. just keep crying. just let it out, which is just as bad as the pain for me because why am i crying? im crying because this is death. i am totally out of control, i am at the mercy of people who are up at 4am who cant even get their GD blood pressure machine to work and im gonna die right there on Sunset Blvd. im crying because no doctor or specialist has been able to tell me how to avoid this. im crying because theres a pretty girl listening to me not be cool.

    my BP is 178 over 125. HAPPY EVERYONE?

    they take me to room 10. amber helps me out of my shirt. im laying on the gurney and im just moaning like a bear who has been shot in the fucking head but he aint dead yet. theres a few other people in this part of the ER and because i am highly sensitive in all areas at this point i can hear them all saying, what the hells wrong with that guy?

    and fortunately Amber parts the curtains and very politely asks a nurse, can we do something about this pain?


    then the longest ten minutes in human history passed and finally a nurse came in with a cocktail of morphine, anti-puke meds, high blood pressure pills, and a shot of rum.

    it cut right through the pain. but naggingly it was still there. they asked me to pee, and i peed. lawdy lawdy did i pee.

    i peed so much i felt like maybe the stone was gone. but no i could still feel it. so they took me to the cat scan where i met a man who looked like all my relatives. and it turned out he was from DC. so we chatted, and took a picture together but when i got up i doubled over.

    then a nurse came in and asked what the pain level was. i said it was a 10 then a 2 now we are back up to 8. and they gave me another dose of morphine and i drifted into a nether land.

    before i floated too far, i said, amber, if i fall asleep just go home. youve been awake since 4:20, no need for you to soldier through this. but she went to starbucks and came back. i had a phone that could get tv shows. she wasnt interested and soon the doc said i was free to go.

    but life isnt fair and the hospital pharmacy doesn’t allow me to get drugs there so we took a Lyft to the Walgreens a few miles away. and i felt so good.


    i felt like i had delivered a baby and it had already graduated college.

    the contrast between ultimate pain and a quick lack of pain was bizarre and slightly unnerving. how can we feel like we are going to die at 6am but at 9am alls kool and the gang? got the meds, took one of the pain pills and drifted off again.

    and then slept and slept.

    so whats the lesson: simple. always have a little stash of heroin around the house just incase.


    tomorrow morning i have to be in santa monica at 8:30am to fight a traffic ticket. i wonder if i pass out.

  4. Tuesday, November 14, 2017

    this is a real place on a real day now, here 

    you are a real person, living in this real place, and just as beautiful.

    your mom carried you around in her belly, she fed you before you were born.

    she took care of you after and after and after and after

    all the wise men traveled to see you, the cows mooed and the donkeys said hi

    above the angels cooed, the stars twinkled and the clouds parted so we could all see better

    not because you were capable of magic

    but because you just being here, all by itself is a reflection of the best magic of all

    the miracle of life.

    when your jeans rip or you slip on ice or lose your phone on a snowy day

    it’s ok

    because those wise men are still bearing gifts, the angels are still in awe

    and the good Lord is still bragging, quietly to himself, saying

    look what I made.

    and smiling.

  5. thank you Rise, wherever you are 

    when i was in high school i took an Iowan college up on an offer to visit their school.

    a bus drove around suburban Illinois picking up kids like us who had signed up to spend the night in Cornell College. on the bus i saw two beautiful young ladies, Rise (pictured, left) and her best friend Tracy (not pictured). i enjoyed the college but i knew i was probably going to come to LA for my studies.

    so before we got on the bus for the long ride back to Illinois i made sure that i sat near the two pretty girls, and i succeeded. not only that but we all hit it off. Tracy and Rise didn’t go to Cornell either, they chose, instead a school in Wisconsin. Since these were the days before the internet (!), we wrote letters back and forth and occasionally i called Tracy because i had, what the kids called, the hot for her, which i no disrespect to Rise who had the bluest eyes ive ever seen.

    one day Rise told me she was going to spend a semester in Switzerland and i should visit her. i laughed it off because i was 20. who goes to Europe when they’re 20 simply because they were invited? i was selling TVs in west LA and i was doing pretty well at it. one thing led to another and i found myself not going to UCSB right away. i had 4 months to think about the bad job i had done at Santa Monica College.

    so i wrote Rise and said, see you at the Swiss Army Knife Store! and i went to Europe for the first time and it changed my life. one thing i learned was travel is relatively inexpensive. another thing was that people around the world understand American politics better than most Americans. “Foreigners” are able to see past the racism that is intertwined within US politics and question it. miraculously. it made me feel guilty that i wasn’t as educated in politics as much as i should be.

    from that trip i started subscribing to newspapers because all the smart people i met read at least one paper and often three. subsequently, each time i have visited europe i found that my first trip wasn’t unusual: europeans not only know US politics inside and out, but they also know their own, brilliantly. they also know several languages, how to drink, and how dangerous guns are in society.

    looking back at this, now 30 years later, i feel so blessed that i went on that bus to a college i knew i was never going to attend, and had the courage to chat up the two hottest babes on that bus, and was in the position to be able to visit Rise (and her super cool friend Ae) in Switzerland, a trip that led me to visit several other countries on that journey… because it deeply shaped me as an adult. and i am so grateful. sooooo grateful.

  6. Saturday, November 11, 2017

    the difference between being black and white in a grocery store 

    amber is as sweet as can be, and has no problem parading around in tight, revealing clothes at times

    so when i overheard her say hi to a security guard at the grocery store the other day i barely noticed.

    then she did something i would never do in a million years in any store:

    she opened the pocket of her bag, put something in it

    and clasped that pocket shut.

    immediately i said, what on earth did you do?

    she said, I put my phone in my bag.

    i said, did you do it very slowly with nothing else in your hand so the Eye in the Sky could clearly see it?

    she laughed on me and went on her way.

    a little while later i noticed that she had placed in the cart two containers of Juice that helps you fall asleep.

    i asked, oh are you afraid you wont get drowsy tonight?

    (sleeping with me is an exciting thrill ride, let me tell you)

    a minute or two later i saw the security guard again.

    later in line i put the juices on the conveyer belt, but one was empty.

    she said, “oh i drank one while we were shopping” and smiled.

    when we got home i was all, thats why that guard was following you, you were putting things in your bag, you were drinking things in the store, if you were black you would have been arrested and searched.

    she said, i do those things all the time.

    i said if you were black you would be dead.

    she thought i was kidding. i am not kidding.

  7. Friday, November 10, 2017

    i had the most realistic and terrifying dream the other night 

    i looked out my window and there was a mountain

    there was a fire on the mountain.

    basically the mountain was on fire.

    and up and down the mountain, emotionless were demons

    who knows what they were doing but they were hunched over

    marching. taking things up and down. like worker ants.

    the sky was dark and smokey.

    in retrospect i could have been in Hell already

    but in the dream i thought, shit, this is The Reckoning

    This is Judgement Day.

    and i had always thought that the Righteous would be able to step out into that war zone and raise our hands and say here i am Lord, let’s GTFO of here

    but i was terrified. there was no hope for me. those demons would eventually come down that mountain for me.

    i had sinned and was unforgiven

    and unsaved.

    it was so crystal clear and horrible.

    yesterday i told amber about the dream and she said you have been so good to me and so many others, that dream isn’t true.

    but it seemed so true.

    it was Bosch come alive. i was in it.

    and she turned to the Garden of Earthly Delights which i had recently hung above the bed

    and she said maybe you should take that down.

  8. Wednesday, November 8, 2017

    last night we had a wake for LAist 

    i love this picture. these are five of the Editors spanning 2005-2017.

    without Carolyn (far left), I wouldn’t have had the gig. she knew of this blog and sat in the front row at SXSW as i spoke on a panel with the first(?) LAist editor, Jason Toney, and others on the Blogging While Black discussion and she told me I would be great for the gig. she championed me to Jake and Jen and got it.

    without Emma (center) i wouldn’t have been able to write under a pen name there. which would turn out to be my last writing for the blog. last night i told her that of the 10+ that i did, I was sorry that only 2 were any good. she looked at my like i was crazy and said that i was the only one who felt that way. so nice of her.

    next to her is Carmen Tse who is a Giants fan.

    and on the far right is Julia Wick who was the last LAist Editor. she wrote a good piece on City Lab explaining what that last day was like.

    it was great to see everyone. i got a bit drunk. woke up in the middle of the night with nightmares. and i guess that was the proper reaction to what happens when a clueless billionaire takes this great thing that a huge group of people made out of nothing and wipes his old ass with it and flushes.

    but something tells me we aint going out like that.

  9. Monday, November 6, 2017

    are you good at anything? im not 

    imagine you were good at something. like really good.

    imagine you found out you were and someone who mattered said holy crap look at you.

    then imagine you got to do it.

    thats how i feel about uber and lyft.

    i used to think that if i was a great guitar player id be the biggest dick.

    id wear flashy clothes and adopt a british accent and surround myself with weirdos.

    so when i couldnt barely play any chords i was happy.

    because i would never want to be a dick to someone.

    even when people are being mean to me i try to chill for a while

    put myself in their shoes, think about it, look at all the angles.

    when i was a kid i loved art. loved it. every semester of high school i took an art class.

    one of the teachers showed us cubism one day and she said here picassos trying to show you all the sides at the same time. the front the back the left side the right side.

    then in college i had a teacher showing us Tolstoy and she said here he is showing you the fight from the wife’s point of view, then the husbands, then the maids and then God’s

    so i enjoy seeing all the sides and when i drive i try to think, if i was in the backseat of the Benz of the worlds greatest uber driver what would i want?

    the answer usually starts with a clean car that smells fresh, not perfumed, but faintly of orange peels.

    miles davis should be playing softly and the route should be quick and confident.

    if the passengers wanna know some facts about the neighborhoods we are passing by, the driver should not only be able to tell you whats there

    but what used to be there.

    there should be water, mints, napkins, phone chargers, cup holders,

    and wisdom.

    fucking wisdom for days.

    the other day i got my first 3-star rating (out of 5) in over 500 trips. i couldn’t believe it.

    because life isn’t fair i don’t know who gave it to me or why.

    which is sad because im dying to know. not because i wanna fight. but because if there is some feedback that would truly make me the worlds greatest uber driver, i would love to know.

    for example, perhaps they wanted mozart.

  10. Sunday, November 5, 2017

    picked up this guy in West LA on a sunny day 

    it was beautiful, no traffic, i was feeling great.

    picked him up near Bundy, over by The Park Nobody Is Allowed To Use.

    his wife had driven his car to a repair shop that previous night and asked if they could remove the smell of 47 year-old asshole

    when he returned from work later that night, they argued, again, a nightly occurrence, and she finally admitted to him where his car could be found.

    so i was taking him to the shop in Santa Monica.

    it wasn’t a long drive, but in it he told me how they had met in their early 20s, had a beautiful marriage and produced two great kids.

    but over the last 4-5 years she has been unbearable, always snapping at the kids, yelling at him. Doing the weirdest things.

    he thinks she’s bipolar. he’s moved out of the house. but the hardest thing on him is what to tell his teenage kids.

    he was damn near crying in my backseat.

    i said, this is what id say to the kids

    say, you know how when your computer has a virus and the cursor jumps all over the place and the sound won’t work?

    it’s still Your computer, the one that you love, the one that showed you all the cool things

    it’s just sick and needs to get fixed.

    your mom really does love you and always will. she just has to go into the shop.

    and then he really started crying.