nothing in here is true

  1. Sunday, October 25, 2020

    my birthday week was fantastic, thanks for asking 

    on the Day itself i drove around the Valley looking for baseball cards

    then Chris and Amber took me to deep dish at Ginos East in Studio City

    and the crazy part of that was we all had to sit outside because of COVID and these other Chicago transplants were out there too.

    it wasnt cold but it wasnt warm. but after a beer or two everyone was chatty and happy and super grateful to be eating Ginos pizza

    it tastes the same, though it seemed smaller.

    so i met some new friends, we exchanged business cards and lots of smiles.

    midwestern people are the greatest.

    afterwards i went on Facebook and soooo many people had wished me well. i think 200? what the.

    and some of the people said the nicest things. i wanted my mom to read them. i wanted to say, look what theyre saying about your boy!

    when i finally opened her gift — there were baseball cards in there! mom came through.

    lately ive been trying to trade with people because finding them is so hard and ebay is sorta a ripoff because often the shipping cost more than the cards. so trading is better.

    one guy i reached out to through his youtube video was maybe 13? so i didnt want his parents to think i was taking advantage so i arranged a trade that was super lopsided in his favor. and then he kept asking for more and more.

    we’ll see if he comes through. i hope so. trading might be the way to go.

    then yesterday i had a nice talk with my neighbor and her best friend.

    this pandemic is hitting everyone hard. everyone is fighting with their loved ones and spouses and roommates. this one woman was telling me how she cries all the time now because of this and that.

    but mostly it comes down to how the government hasnt taken care of the people.

    i totally expected that because this was an election year, the GOP would have done a lot more than doled out one measly check a half year ago, but nope.

    they’re acting as if rushing to reopen hasn’t led to second and third spikes in many US cities and states.

    they act as if the people aren’t super confused by what they see the White House do as opposed to what it says.

    meanwhile every week the White House is getting sick. so wtf.

    future people, let it be known, our federal government treated this pandemic like a deadbeat dad treats his kids: they ignored it, threw some money at it early on, and then basically pretended that it didnt exist.

    meanwhile the kid suffered, got angry… and might be scarred forever.

  2. Saturday, October 24, 2020

    dear tony, what is the weirdest thing about you? 


    that is an amazing question. let me take a walk and think about this.

    ok, back.

    i figured it out.

    i have a hard time finishing things.

    it doesnt matter if it is a slice of pizza, a cold Coke, a novel, or a freelance assignment.

    i dont think its an ADD thing. i really don’t know what it is.

    if you have dinner with me it’s the most noticeable because i love to talk and listen and eat slowly because when i was young i would get super bad stomach aches if i ate fast. so now i eat slow and painfully slow at restaurants.

    but no way do i finish the meal there. unless it’s sushi. but not in n out, not mcdonalds, not The Pantry, not even pho or ramen. i always need a doggy bag and everyone always makes fun of me and they should.

    i have worked for Los Angeleno for over a year now and when i look back it’s a miracle that i finished over 100 pieces because i’ll write something and it will seem like — to me — that it took forever even if it only took two days. and the hardest part is always the end.

    in part because i used to pride myself on having really good endings on things.

    i once had this writing teacher who said the worst thing you could do to a reader was bore them. so i took that a step further and theorized that the best thing you could do to them is reward them for making it to the end. so you better have a damn good ending for their ass. so id try extra hard to stick the landing.

    lately i have not really done that. sometimes i’ll get lucky, but i feel like in the past i had a higher success rate at having a killer ending.

    also of late i have had a very hard time doing freelance work. my mind is elsewhere. is it COVID? is it Trump? is it this crazy lockdown? the lack of concerts ive been able to attend?

    for some reason i just cannot do the simplest things no matter how much people offer to pay me. all i think about is Los Angeleno and baseball cards. i dont even watch that much tv any more.

    and for damn sure if im watching a TV series i wont finish it unless i totally have to.

    because the only thing i hate worse than the DH is spoilers.

  3. Tuesday, October 20, 2020

    went to the americana at brand today 

    believe it or not i was looking for a brownie.

    am i pregnant? probably.

    im sure men can get random cravings too. but this was severe

    typically im a cheapskate and if i want something i can talk my way out of it by saying dude those are so expensive

    for example while i was there i strolled past a Tesla dealer.

    theyre in the malls y’all.

    i have been watching a lot of youtube videos about them, and last month when we ordered a lyft, we got picked up by one.

    they seem incredible.

    naturally the $35k version gets magically turned into $50k after tax if you want the cool features like Self Driving Mode and Bigg Ass Batterryy

    it was dead at the mall so i went in and talked to the nice woman who answered all of my questions

    you can tell when people truly know their shit

    and those who are faking.

    serena was not faking.

    she was wearing a mask i was wearing a mask

    she said, so can i schedule a test drive for you?

    i said absolutely not!

    she laughed and said why not

    i said cuz then i’ll buy it!

    walked past the amazon store and then the apple store

    i tried to thank the manager there who helped me the day before the store had to shut down

    apple has always been great.

    nearly bought a cupcake while looking for brownies

    at that cupcake atm

    but it looked like it had covid all over the buttons and the drape.

    then i met this woman and asked if i could take her picture

    nobody says no to a man in a Cubs cap.


  4. Sunday, October 18, 2020

    for the last few weekends i’ve locked my phone up 

    and stayed off of social media.

    but this weekend because of the Dodgers, and because part of my job at Los Angeleno is to do the Twitter and the Facebook, i couldn’t just let it rot during this very important weekend

    it’s valuable to be part of the city-wide conversation.

    but ive gotta tell you, i got so little done.

    im working on this little tiny side project which is sucking my time away and i barely got any done this weekend

    mostly because if i have that phone on and people are talking nonsense about this topic or that one

    i will go in and slap em upside the head.

    im not sure how useful this is because who knows it might be a bot im fighting with

    and its not even that fulfilling any more because ive been doing it for years

    but i will just stare at that stupid thing.

    next weekend and the weekend after imma put it away again.

    it’s just not worth it.

    fun baseball and football game today

    bears are 5-1.

    worst team ive ever seen go 5-1.

  5. Friday, October 16, 2020
  6. i always knew it was sitting on a landmine 

    my favorite burrito place is closing

    the LA Times said so yesterday in a feature so big it’s gotta get prominence in the Food section on Saturday or my name isn’t HR Puffnstuff.

    the writer did a good job on talking to the owners and getting some good stories out of them but she didn’t say much about the neighborhood, the food, the vibe, the movie that was shot there or what it was like pre-pandemic.

    it was a wild mix of every culture, sexual background, type of fashion, and level of sobriety. it is exactly what you’d want in a spacious big city taqueria where the prices are reasonable and sometimes the food is outstanding.

    anyway i was working on one thing, trying to get another thing done before today, and worrying about a third thing when i read about this and i spent the rest of the night working on it.

    shout out to Apple Photos who lets you search things by where they are on the map. I have over ten years of pictures from that place.

    something i left out of the piece but maybe i should toss in there but nah is this

    sometimes i would take dates there to see how they reacted. it’s a divey joint. freaky at times. despite the signs, occasionally shit goes down there.  it’s nice to know who you’re dealing with and a place like that will elicit responses, let me tell you.

    but ultimately the food wins you over every time.

    LA has maybe 10 million taco joints. but losing this one hurts.

  7. Tuesday, October 13, 2020

    how could anyone concentrate 

    yesterday I interviewed an inanimate building for Los Angeleno

    not the first time I’ve done such a thing.

    maybe 20 years ago I interviewed an escalator at the Vermont Wilshire subway station

    sadly that escalator is no longer there as that station was remodeled years ago, which may have been why Metro often failed to repair it back in the day

    Then maybe 10 years ago I interviewed my belly for the LA Times

    the only thing I don’t like about that piece is it was published on the papers CMS and it lost the picture over time which to me brought it home

  8. Sunday, October 11, 2020

    do you know what its like to run out of gas 

    the struggle ive had over this pandemic isn’t like any that ive read from anyone else.

    im stuck. im empty. but not in a zen way.

    my job is to pour out the good stuff.

    but i sit down at the keyboard and my mind goes off in a million places.

    i smoke but that doesnt help.

    id drink but amber loves it that i dont drink.

    my music isn’t inspiring.

    my hands are literally telling me to stop.

    but heres the saddest thing. my lovely friend has hired me to do some side work

    and in this economy who wouldn’t accept that?

    and i love the work, and she is a sweetheart to work for.

    but i can barely do what im supposed to do.

    i cant even with the extra.

    i cant watch movies.

    i cant do anything except organize baseball cards.

    yesterday amber asked if i had any baseball cards for her niece.

    i said hand me that black binder.

    and i flipped a few pages and there was a card of a little girl who had thrown out the first pitch at ball parks around the country.

    and a few pages later was a nun who had also thrown one over the plate.

    i put them in plastic sleeves and she said

    how on earth do you know where everything is?

    i said its the only thing i know right now.

    my mind is in lock down.

    i’ll write two pieces for los angeleno next week.

    but the second one will be a struggle.

    is this it for me?

    do i need adderall?

    do i need subtractall?

    am i closed on Thursday

    do i need a longer vacation deep into the desert.

    this time absolutely no phone. no social media. just books. just paper. just two pens.

    just one pretty girl. just 7 pizzas. just 37 mexicokes. just 4 gallons of rocky road.

    just my imagination

    once again.

  9. Saturday, October 10, 2020

    the other day my buddys brother died 

    and it reminded me how fleeting life is and how we should truly milk it for all it is

    walk that extra block

    say hi to that extra person

    write that one extra email telling that loved one how important they have been to you.

    when will we say that?

    should there be a day?

    shouldnt there be one day where we say i know i havent talked with you in a few years but your picture still hangs on my wall and i think about you all the time, fondly?

    we facebook twitter instagram youtube

    but we’re always looking for that new follower that new friend that new thing.

    i think it’s ok to reach back a little and say, you helped me get here, and you were one of the really good parts of my weird journey.

    related: these kids were 9-10. that was THIRTY years ago.

    these kids are all turning FORTY

    i thank God for allowing me to be placed on this planet because it’s the craziest experience ever

    which is why i try to write it all down because people in Heaven are not gonna believe it.

  10. Thursday, October 8, 2020

    i was in junior high when i heard women and children first 

    some kid brought the record to school.

    there were no turntables in school.

    but he brought it because he had just seen the light. he had heard the incredible sounds and jungle rhythms of Everybody Wants Some and he was going to spread the word to his brothers and sisters.

    and im glad he did because even though i had no money to go to the store and get the record, somehow i heard it too and i too felt the wildness it contained

    who were these golden gods?

    as much as i loved AC/DC, there was a looseness to van halen. it wasn’t so scripted.

    if anything the pattern was: guitar, hook, breakdown, david lee roth saying something sexual, and then a giant climax.

    works for me.

    i saw van halen play exactly three times.

    the first was over the summer in illinois when i was in college. tracey d, who i had dated while being an ice cream man got us tickets.

    that girl was a true leader. no girl had ever bought ME tickets to a concert. but she knew i loved them and she did too. sadly this was the Van Hagar era and even though i didnt really love the new tunes, Sammy was entertaining and afterwards tracey asked me to spend the night with her, something i had never done before so, hubba hubba.

    the second time was with karisa at Staples Center decades later. for some reason we were fighting. was she late? was i late? who knows. but we missed the opener Kool & the Gang. but were in time for the middle opener, Cheap Trick who i had never seen before for some reason. they were fine.

    this was the reunited Van Halen with DLR back. he had a weird little sliding area up front. strange tap shoes kinda. it was like a vaudeville guy fronting a hair metal band. it was awkward. but the music — oh lord the music soothed everything.

    the last time was with jeanine at the Hollywood Bowl. she was sleeping on my couch and was a guitar god herself. we had good seats. the stars were out. and it was a much much better show. soooo long. they played everything they could. wolfie was on bass. it was a perfect night.

    when amber announced that Eddie had died, i rushed to TMZ where she had read it and then to Twitter where I saw Wolfgang’s tweet and I wrote a quickie little obit for Los Angeleno’s FB and Twitter and i realized i needed to call Scott Sterling who never picks up the phone

    but he did with a “this day is like when Prince died.”

    Scott had written a little book about being the only Black kid at the Women and Children First concert in Detroit. so we talked for 20 minutes and i recorded it so i could quote him for the real obit i wanted to write.

    then i emailed Parry Gripp who wrote and performed “Van Halen” for Nerf Herder many moons ago. he wrote back very quickly, and kindly. he too should be in any obit of that great band.

    and then i wrote it as fast as i could because i had something important to do at 3:30pm

    something life changing, potentially, that i hope to reveal later this month.

    finished it at 3pm. and felt good about it. particularly the way Eddie’s Frankenstrat looked on our page.

    the young editor who copyedits me found a generic pic of Eddie with short hair and asked if i wanted to replace the image of the guitar with the pic and i was all, yeah no.

    ah the kids.

    throughout the day i wanted to cry.

    i knew he had cancer. hell, in 2000 before the busblog even existed i made this photo essay about it. (click the pictures)

    over the most recent years i had heard Eddie call in to Howard Stern. the two were friends IRL. i knew he struggled with booze. i knew 65 is way past the expiration date of rock stars.

    but he’s still a guitar hero who was at such a level it almost seemed like a cartoon. otherworldly.

    eddie van halen, like jimi hendrix, was someone you couldn’t even put in a discussion because it ends the debates. it’s not fair. he’s the high score you have to toss out with the lowest score so you could properly find the average.

    he was the opposite of the average.

    and he became that legend on his very first fucking record.

    whose demo was produced by Gene Simmons of KISS because when he first heard Eddie, he too was instantly all in

    just like that nameless kid in my junior high.

    just like me.