nothing in here is true

  1. Thursday, September 29, 2016

    why journalists shouldnt worry about how many friends they have online 


    this week i saw people who have 60,000 twitter followers who averaged 2 likes on each of their tweets

    and i saw a couple of people with 500 followers who had a tweet retweeted 8,000 times.

    there is a quiet elegance about what happens on twitter where

    you have to produce.

    just because youre someones favorite tv star or soccer player or dumbass

    people arent going to retweet you unless they love what you said and they want their friends to see it.

    thats it.

    so even if marilyn monroe was around, people might “like” a tweet she put out there, even if it was crap

    but if she totally busted with some wisdom

    or posted a picture of a particularly adorable kitten

    she’d get some damn retweets.

    journalists should worry about doing their job first and foremost.

    then they should tweet it out 3 or 4 times with a variety of super fascinating headlines.

    one of em will catch if it’s a good story.

    and guess what, if no one is retweeting your stuff,

    don’t worry about it. some people are working and dont have time for fucking twitter.

  2. Wednesday, September 28, 2016

    mentally preparing for meeting the nexus tomorrow 

    fuck fuck fuckbecause the world is bizarre, about once a year i end up speaking to large groups.

    my favorite place to speak is the daily nexus. and yet i still get nervous.

    i worry im going to be boring

    i worry they wont think im “cool”

    i worry im gonna waste their time.

    as i drove to work today i thought about a rough outline in my mind

    1. when you are in your teens and 20s you are bubbling with creativity. based on almost every other writer and musician in history (and of course there are exceptions) the best stuff you will make is before youre 30. so write it all down now. the more you write now the better off you’ll be after youre 30.
    2. kiss all the girls
    3. i know facebook and the twitter arent cool, but use them anyway, every day, because the jobs you will get out of college will be web production and social media and they will expect you to be experts. the good news is the college grads you will be competing with wouldnt have heard this advice and will suck at the twitter and the facebook and you will be amazing.
    4. read all the books
    5. when it’s light out study, when its dark out party.
    6. ask questions like you know they are dying for you ask them. and follow up like you cant believe the bullshit they just answered you with.
    7. have courage. if you get nervous, fake your courage.
    8. get some damn breaking news going via periscope and/or facebook live
    9. read the bible
    10. put something from every paycheck you get into your retirement fund and never touch it.

    And then I’m going to pass out a copy of my favorite opinion column from my college days and tell them that anything is possible at the Nexus. It is your job to push the envelope, not retract it.

  3. everythings upside down and sideways too 

    trump poppinsyou wouldnt know it by looking at me but i do best when things have order and structure and


    i love having a vacation. i love going back to chicago and seeing my friends and family.

    but it throws everything out of wack.

    have you ever seen the busblog go so many days without posting in a week?

    i have forgotten what day it is. i forget what im supposed to do today and tomorrow and the next day.

    i made it to the Cubs’ playoff lottery but forgot that i was supposed to buy tickets this morning at 8am.

    i didnt realize yesterday that tomorrow im going to UCSB to speak to the Nexus, not today.

    everything is crazy. i am crazy. all because of one thing: i want to watch the Cubs make their way to the World Series and win. i dont care if i do it here at Wrigley or just outside of Wrigley. i just want it to happen and i want to be close to the love. aint gonna be much love here in LA. but i do hope that the Dodgers face the Cubs so i can see some of the games here in LALA LAnd.

    im hungry. im thirsty. word is that Jeanine got a job in Vegas yesterday. we will see if thats true. i hope it is because who doesnt love Vegas?

    word is now i have to go to work myself. which is great because who doesnt love it when i go to work in the morn.

    anyways dont do drugs, stay in school, pay your taxes, and dont lie on national tv.

  4. Monday, September 26, 2016

    so many things have happened in the last few days, heres a quickie summary 

    gnarls barkley

    flew home from ORD -> LAX and sat next to the smelliest man in America. there should be a law against being that stinky on a plane trip.

    virgin air is the best airline in the world. i always feel so grateful any time i am on it. everyones so nice. the tech is always so good.

    took the Flyaway from LAX to union station and then the red line home. $12 total including the $2 i gave the busdriver. fast clean lovely.

    when i got home Jeanine had cleaned my room, made my bed, did my laundry and had a fish dinner waiting for me. thats love. what a sweet girl. someone get her a cheap room in a great pad even though i will miss how clean my house has been.

    there really is something about sleeping in your own bed.

    my cats missed me. they couldnt stop being sweet. they never sleep next to the tv but they did so they could keep an eye on me. how adorable.

    yesterday i stayed home and watched football from morning til night. God the Bears are terrible. this was the first time i actually bet that they would lose a game. and sure enough they lost big.

    before that i watched Vin Scullys last game as a Dodger announcer. he made them play him singing The Wind Beneath My Wings to the whole stadium. it preempted their celebration by about 5 minutes but the team hung in there. many fans cried. i may have cried a little watching them cry. the cats cried.

    slept with the window open and the ceiling fan on and my bedroom door shut. the cats gave me my privacy. it was great being in Chicago and just as great being home.

  5. Sunday, September 25, 2016

    Vin Scully’s last words on tv 

    the Dodgers won, thus clutched the NL West with a walk off homer in the bottom of the 10th

    then they gave Vin the floor and he had a little speech which led into this

    weirdly awkward song sung by Vinny to his wife back in the day

    which then lead into Randy Newman’s I Love LA

    Vin has more than deserved his strange little request.

  6. Friday, September 23, 2016

    today is the 20th anniversary of Pinkerton 

    pinksnowmy favorite weezer album.

    one day i was at a party and Rivers was there.

    it was during the time when Rivers was in exile because he was so sad and ashamed that Pinkerton wasnt the commercial monster that their debut, the blue album was.

    he had a thick beard and he was as shy as everyone said he was gonna be and he sat in a comfy chair in the corner trying to hide behind his glasses. i think he was practicing to be invisible.

    after a beer i got the courage to walk over to him and say hi. he said hi and smiled but it felt like even that was torture and for sure i didnt wanna torture one of my favorite rock stars.

    i said, i just wanna tell you, i dont care what anyone says, i love Pinkerton and i am so grateful you made it. he smiled the most awkward smile like i had just complemented him on a messy poop.

    later i heard people playing music in the garage.

    the party was being held in the small house on Amherst Street in West LA where Weezer lived when they first moved to LA. The garage in question was the one Rivers wrote about in the song from the Blue Album.

    whoever was on drums was playing super badly. i thought to myself, im pretty bad at drums but im not as bad as That guy. so i went in, asked for the drumsticks and took over for the jam session.

    minutes later, shy Rivers came in with a notebook. turned out it was filled with Nirvana songs that he was learning. he had little notes with chord changes and lyrics. whoever was on guitar handed him the guitar and he turned to me and said, do you know Nirvana?

    sarcastically i said WHO?

    not catching the joke he said, Kurt Cobain, Nirvana?

    i was all, play a little and i’ll figure it out.

    (next to Weezer, Nirvana was my favorite band.)

    and we all played Nirvana songs until i realized what was happening and i ran out of the room because my heart was about to explode in a million pieces.

    even telling this very true story is making me feel that way.

    a few years ago Rivers and Weezer played Pinkerton all the way through at the Universal Ampitheater which was then called the Gibson which is now called Harry Potter World because they tore it down to make way for an amusement park.

    because life is super dooper weird and sometimes ridiculously magical.

  7. a visit to the local mall 

    skatemy mom and I are at a random mall in the middle of nowhere an hour outside Chicago.

    I see a Thrasher tshirt in the window of a skate shop with a demonic goat 666 image on a satanic star.

    So naturally I go in because how is this seriously in this suburban Illinois mall?

    We start talking to the guy working at the shop.

    Curious if there’s any Todd Francis skateboards there, I ask if he has any.

    Guy says, “Todd Francis? You mean one of the most famous skateboard designers ever?”

    Quickly goes to one of the many racks of decks and instantly finds this one pictured  and says “this guy is a legend. I have his book. You Know him? Wait till I tell my friends!”

    So I show him some pics of Todd in college.

    Minds blown. (By the way the price of the board was Not $8.25 – it was actually $52.)

    So we talk some more, shake hands, talk about skating in Santa Barbara in the 80s, where I was lucky enough to meet and work with Todd and the dudes are seriously impressed.

    Here’s the weird thing about Todd. I was impressed by him the very first time I ever met him, I tell them. He was that good even when he was 19-20 years old.

    Just as disgusting, just as interesting, just as dark.

    But what is hard to see from his art is how funny he is. Sooooo funny in a dry, bitter, sideways way. OK maybe his art is exactly like that too. I was hungry and needed a Portillos dipped beef.

    Weirdly I forget to tell him that we were roommates on Folsom Street in Frisco in 1994 and watched the Bronco Chase together. But maybe that would have been overkill. They got it.


    then we see a sports store. Cubs Sox Bulls Bears Hawks.

    ive been to this store before and remember the guy behind the counter. I remembered him because I always appreciated his wide selection of Cubs stuff.

    I am looking at a playoff tshirt and right away he says 20% off!

    i say, hold your horses, why dont you see, i might just buy it at full hit? he’s got a thick accent but i catch about every other word.

    we get talking and i look around and I notice that even though the NFL season is only in its 2nd week theres very few Bears crap on his racks. Maybe 2-3 racks thats it. More than half the store is Blackhawks and the rest is Cubs. He tells me the Bears have not been selling for the last 5 years.

    Also these facts:

    Anthony Rizzo jerseys sell more than Kris Bryant

    Blackhawks have been steady sales for the last 5 years, winter, fall, summer, spring. But especially around Christmas.

    The last time the Bears were in the Super Bowl everything sold out and even the distributor sold out.

    And if the Cubs win the World Series he is certain everything in his store will sell out no matter what it is.

    Also these very sad facts:

    He works 7 days a week, 10 hours a day

    No one else works with him.

    He has a nephew who works for him 2 weeks a year for his vacation.

    If he doesn’t open his store on time he gets fined by the mall.

    No way can he close his store for a day because he would get a bigger fine.

    Sales at the store over the last 5 years have sunk year after year.

    His only saving grace would be the Cubs winning the World Series, and yet he wears a Sox jacket because he thinks he looks better in black than in “purple” (which I assume he meant blue).

    Even though the Bulls have signed hometown boy Dwayne Wade, the NBA won’t release anything official until right before the season starts. So no one is really buying any Bulls stuff right now because everyone is preoccupied with the Cubs.

    I begged him to hire my mom to work for him two days a week but they both refused to take me seriously.


  8. Thursday, September 22, 2016

    have i told you i have the greatest friends? 

    14358886_10154511586878057_7270332091119793027_nlast night a handful of my friends from high school met me at Wrigley Field for my annual pilgrimage to the Friendly Confines.

    i was very fortunate in high school that i knew so many cool people and it was great to be reunited with them, a couple of whom i have only seen a few times in the last 20 years.

    the day began with thunderstorms and rain – two things this Los Angeleno hasn’t experienced in nearly 20 years and i didnt know how to handle it.

    but the midwest is a wild place, thunderstorms in the morning and afternoon doesnt necessarily mean a night game rain out. in fact last night it meant just the opposite: beautiful weather, clear skys, clean streets, green grass, gorgeous ivy, and memorable times with friends who have always remained in my heart.

    my mom drove me to monica and her hunky husband’s amazing dream home. patrick is a master with iron and monica’s dad is a talented and skilled contractor who used to build stairs in their summer home that lead to nowhere for fun.

    i imagine that once his oldest daughter owned her own home he was thrilled to use his master craftsmanship and love for her in beautiful ways, and i gotta say, i have been in some o the coolest homes in LA, and Herr Troesken blows them away.

    also i loved that nearly everywhere i looked in the home were Cubs memorabilia on walls, atop tables and even as nightlights.

    patrick drove through the rush hour traffic and monica and i gabbed like two ladies at the hair dressers.

    when we arrived at Wrigleyville we took a stroll around all the new development which gave me mixed emotions because they sure are building up the place that used to be quaint and authentic and old school, almost like lalala oh theres a baseball stadium right in the middle of town? look at that!

    soon it will look more like oh theres a city surrounding the baseball complex? weird.


    after several beers, pulled pork sandwhiches, wine, and trips to various bars we all met at the Harry Caray statue and congregated in the Left Field bleachers. thanks to the rain a lot of the fair weather fans stayed home which meant there was plenty of room for our large group to move around and do our thing in about the fourth and fifth row.


    Bob, the real MVP of the night, bought the tickets for us, and even made tshirts to celebrate the evening. he is my oldest friend, i first met him my first day of Kindergarten and even though we havent lived in the same time zone for quite a while, i will never forget sitting in the left field bleachers when we were in junior high along with our other grade school pal Todd  – and later our high school bud Keith. Hopefully the next time we are all at Wrigley those General Managers can come too.

    laura julie and monica

    other MVPs include high school friends Laura and Julie who took the train from the far out in the sticks to join us. Laura is a school teacher and librarian who invited me to teach her class next September which i gladly accepted. and Julie is one of the few remaining cattle farmers of Northern Illinois and one of my closest friends from school. She told me she made a binder of all the notes I passed her in school which she saved for when I get famous. I apologized for letting her down, although now I’m very curious about those notes because that was basically the Genesis for the busblog.

    Of the friends who i knew in school, these three ladies probably account for 75% of what influenced me in my juvenilia. all i ever wanted to do was impress and entertain them, and i usually did it through my body building and short story writing. so what a joy it was to reunite with them after all these years. AND AT MY FAVORITE PLACE IN THE WORLD!


    because you should always have special guests, also in attendance was my LAist News Editor, Andy Sternberg, who moved from the sandy beaches of Venice to the North Side of Chicago so he could walk to Cubs games to experience this magical season. it was awesome to chill with he and his lovely new lady – who is also a big cubs fan, so i approved.


    i felt a little sad for Monica’s hubby Patrick who had to hear all our old high school war stories, but he seemed ok with it all. what a trooper. i forgot to tell him i wanted his Cubs shirt. But I am glad I didn’t because he would have probably taken it off his back for me.

    Speaking of, you can no longer go topless at Wrigley, which disturbed me, so I took off my shirt (not pictured) and plan to take it off again at my next visit because come on man.


    also in attendance was this fun couple who we didn’t know but who had the sad misfortune of sitting next to us. Because Bob is the Ambassador of Fun, not only did he become friends with them immediately but they taught him a game-long Cub Cup gambling game which I immediately jumped in on. they nick-named me Hollywood – which was apropos since i funded most of the pretty girls’ winnings with very little to show for it afterwards.

    Cubs won, new friends were made and I even met two Mexican young ladies who overheard me talk trash about San Diego, but it led to them giving me their numbers as they told me about their relative’s Carnitas joint on West Cermak.

    so see, people really do win on MTV.


  9. Wednesday, September 21, 2016

    a trio of Ask Tony questions appeared on my Facebook 

    jack and cokechris asks, Whats the protocol for calling BS on friends of friends racist posts? 

    it’s so interesting that you ask this because im about to finish reading the bible for the 3rd or 4th time (but who’s counting?) and Sunday i read this line in 2 Timothy that totally reminded me of Facebook

    23Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

    Here St. Paul (the author of the letter to Timothy is Paul) starts off by saying “just totally ignore the haters because you’ll end up in a flame war, and those are for sucker MCs.” but then he says if we are really going to try to be good Christians we have to be super chill with everyone, totally patient, and if you are going to correct someone do it in the smoothest way ever. which in a way is the opposite of a flame, and eventually it’ll work out.

    Personally i have never seen a racist stop being a racist because of words on a Facebook wall. my experience of racism is it is the culmination of years and years of ignorance that starts with someone’s parents and friends and is fertilized over time by a fucked up environment. so i dont see where even the coolest exchange of facts, hyperlinks, and well-turned phrases could undo what years of bullshit formed. so i don’t even try very much any more, even though it can seem so tempting to jump in there.

    Instead I think there are far better places to place ones energies within Facebook, namely the good people in your life who, for whatever reason, Facebook hides from you because you haven’t engaged with them very much. Chill with them instead.

    Peter asks: Is it too soon for Brangelina jokes? 

    on one hand, it is super sad whenever any couple breaks up, especially those with many kids, because divorce affects some kids very emotionally – not to mention the once-happy couple.

    on the other hand, Comedy Is Not Pretty. some of the funniest jokes are dark, tasteless, rude, foul, biting, and OMG WHAT?comedy is not pretty

    but we need comedy, particularly when we see ourselves in others who apparently are having it worse than we are.

    the problem with bashing on Brad and Angie is for all apparent appearances they’re really sweet people. Brad built houses in New Orleans for the poor after a couple of those hurricanes. he produces films that tackle tough issues in artistic ways (The Big Short, 12 Years a Slave, The Normal Heart, Selma, etc)

    And Angie’s list of charitable endeavors was so long that the Academy gave her a humanitarian award a few years ago where even her acceptance speech was selfless, touching and inspiring, focused on her mom who taught her early on that all of us who live a safe, healthy life are extremely fortunate and downright lucky because we could have just as easily been born in another part of the world devoid of clean water, plentiful food or peace. so those of us whose head is above water should help those who aren’t.

    so since there are plenty of more deserving people to make fun of, i will be aiming my barbs at those who are far more selfish and foolish and worthy of my incredible barbs. perhaps you will feel the same way.

    Asher asks: If Tony is at Wrigley Field for the Word Series, how does he react to the national anthem?

    First of all, aint no way I’m going to be at Wrigley for the World Series. The cheapest tickets are going for close to $9,000 and even though i love the Cubs with all of my heart and wear a Cubs hat almost every day and have dozens of Cubs gear, and have lived this way my whole life, i’ve never had $9,000 laying around for such a thing and i sure as hell don’t now.

    But let’s say a miracle ticket comes my way and there i am in the bleachers and someone great like Billy Corgan or Cheap Trick or Bruce Springsteen starts singing The Star Spangled Banner: as much as i am angry and dismayed by so many innocent victims of the police murdering black men, i don’t see how one blogger in a sea of 40,000 Cub fans kneeling or raising my fist would impact anything in the slightest other than making my fellow Cub fans around me feel uncomfortable.

    What has made this protest so fascinating and powerful is it is coming from the players, most of whom have the cameras pointed at them. Because of these players the protest has gained momentum and kept the conversation going. Even if 1,000 fans knelt, the odds of the cameras catching it are minimal, especially on Fox, who will be broadcasting it, who care so little about the game or the viewers that they insist on having Joe Buck ruin it for everyone.

    So no, for once in my life, I would not be trying to change the world. I would be entirely focused on watching my little Cubby world change.

  10. Tuesday, September 20, 2016

    today is my moms birthday, shes 24 

    momborn to the first black un-official president of canada and a pittsburgh librarian, my mom was raised in southern Georgia during the turbulent 50s and 60s because her parents knew that their power and influence would be better served in the dirty south than in the Steel City.

    my mom excelled in school, was the homecoming queen, valentines dance queen, rivals week queen and ultimately the queen of the school after her mother sewed her a sparkling dress made of silk, roses, and dreams.

    at 16 years old she went to college after skipping a grade. she had never been away from her parents before and First Day was hosting parties and convincing the young gentlemen of Nashville to buy she and her friends booze, high heels and Motown records. One day she found herself on a bus. she didnt know why she was on the bus, all she knew was she wasnt in Georgia or in class, so… Party! turned out the bus was headed to downtown Nashville where she and her friends would participate in the first Civil Rights protest ever. No Justice, No Peace was penned by the young lady next to her. What Do We Want? Lemonade! was yelled by the thirsty young man a few seats back.

    Once at the rally, the state troopers arrived and threatened to kill everyone. My mom ran and made her way back to the dormitory just in time to receive a telephone call from her parents asking how everything was going. Fine! she said and because long distance phone calls cost so much back then she literally got off the hook and decided she would stick to studying and leave the civil protests to the Others.

    she graduated early, got a scholarship to Indiana to get a double Masters in Russian and Math because her heart wanted to be a UN translator but her Virgo mind said, lets have a practical backup plan. After she graduated she moved to Washington DC at the bequest of her college sweetie and whattya know she found herself in the midst of more political marches led by, no joke, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. a few years later she was married and produced two children which she raised mostly on her own: one who would become a blogger with a modest following on twitter.

    today my mom refuses to retire. she teaches her grandchildren the beauty of books, the hard work it takes to grow a victory garden, and how to keep the most organized books. THIS WILL NOT BE HACKED she says as she shows her paid bills perfectly filed in her walk-in safe in the basement.

    her home is meticulous and smells of bacon and potpourri. she collects shot glasses and nativity scenes. she has four tvs and three landline phones. the password of her iphone is 666666 because no one would believe it. she has pictures of several of my old girlfriends on doilies atop a variety of end tables. theres african art, modern art, and college diplomas lining the walls leading to the basement.

    she insists i call her after i have had a long flight or emergency assignment from the xbi.

    i cant imagine how boring my life would have been without her guidance over these years because her advice has always been the same: fuck shit up, negro. make me proud.

    happy birthday mom!