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.

53 years ago tonight

my mom did the nicest thing anyones ever done

she went through excruciating pain to bring me into this world

when the doctor presented me

he told her, congratulations,

you have a blogger.

the bells of the church rang, pigeons scattered and not far away at the lincoln memorial,

honest abe quietly smiled and wished me to illinois

which is a perfect place to grow up, but

my mom made me cakes, invited my friends over, even sent them home with bags of treats and toys despite it being my birthday, thats just how it was. gift giving. sharing. leading by example.

one of the best gifts my mom ever gave me was patience. for generations our family went to and graduated college. quiet a feat for black families, but then there i was, dragging my feet academically through high school

with no real plan going into senior year other than maybe go to california and maybe go to junior college

maybe.

it must have driven her crazy. even my friends who had crappier high school grades than i, hustled off to state schools and little colleges around the midwest

and that fall i sorta checked in to a city college, only to have to extend my time there beyond two years because

i couldnt write well.

any other parent, including hypothetical me, would have blown a gasket.

20 years old and cant pass a community college history class?

but she hung in there. “no pressure. you got this. you know youre not a dummy.”

i was reading paradise lost for fun while being an ice cream man

she believed in my weirdness, reluctantly, but she believed, and therefore i did too.

soon i was writing every day, for money, for all to see in the college paper.

winning awards, kissing girls.

all because my mom a million years ago said, fuck it, lets get this negro out

tonight.

it cost her $200.

which i should write her a check for one day.

heres how you make me so happy

let me drive into the desert after a close Bears game

with you.

lets stop off at Trader Joes for everything that’ll fit in a mini fridge.

it’s almost 5pm? maybe we can get into a 5pm mass after we check in.

because amber works where she does and its connected to this resort, we only have to pay a fraction of the downright reasonable $400 a night stay in whats called a Starlight Castilla.

it’s called that because it’s everything a regular room gets you, plus you have your own staircase that leads to a private outdoor deck that includes a cool couch and even cooler outdoor fireplace.

inside the room is plush, a second fireplace is next to the tv. french windows, carpet, flat screen tv, tile bathroom with a separate shower and bath tub.

outside there are 41 pools and 41 hot tubs. some bigger than others. each just a little stroll away, so lets say a beautiful young woman with tattoos and a frosty margarita slides into your late night dip, you can escape to a nearby empty hot tub because it’s Sunday, not Sinday, Becky.

there are many magical things about the desert. the heat is calming, the wind plays with the fronds of the palm trees, the sky is unblemished blue and then black at night. the stars come out one after another to say happy birthday.

even the lobby of the La Quina Resort smells otherworldly yet somehow familiar. we heard bad things about the mexican restaurant and since neither of us were interested in $20 drinks, we drove and drove towards Palm Springs proper looking for dinner.

thai? maybe, but we live in Thai Town, Chinese? maybe. italian? sure. and as we were at one of the super long stop lights i turned to amber and said, i could go for anything, even a Red Lobster.

we laughed. she put Red Lobster into Waze and it was a block away. so we went for it. endless shrimp? endless yes!

amber is like me, down for pretty much whatever. especially if it is cheesy and probably not the things you “should” do on you 199th birthday. we ate four different kinds of shrimp (regular was the best), devoured those biscuits, ordered sides of broccoli and mashed potatoes, drank pop like kids and ducked out before they could surprise me with a desert and a song.

amber: but but

me: xbi can’t have his spot blown up like that

amber: but

drove home, the hotel had delivered a nice box of chocolate covered pretzels. the hot tubs were used. the deck was used. the fireplace was turned on and janes addiction’s three days oozed from my wireless speaker. we fell asleep to the grateful dead. gratefully.

in the morning we packed and said hi to Coachella, which was surprisingly open, so amber rolled around in the grass and told me the sad tale of when she was last there.

we drove down the freeway back to LA but were starving and i saw these billboards for a vegas style buffet at a nearby casino.

almost went to in n out but amber loves salad and the good thing about buffets are their salad bars.

first we stopped off at the dinosaurs from Pee Wees Big Adventure and went into the brontosaurus gift shop and got some gifts.

then at the casino we met a woman with a tiara that said “it’s my birthday!” i approached her and her daughters (?) and said it’s MY birthday! they said, “she’s 90 today!” i said but IM 90 today!

we took a picture. she was so tiny it was awesome and she did not look 90 at all. so full of life. such a good sign. proof that one should hang out more in casinos. i mean in the desert. i mean with loved ones.

and people who understand the value of subtleties

and down to earth strangers.

i think that resort is my new favorite.

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!

today is my truests birthday, shes 24

i once dated a girl who got very jealous that i called chris my truest.

i said jealousy will not get me to call you that so shut it.

she said but do you love her?

i said, of course. i love all of my exgirlfriends.

and one day i will probably still love you.

she said well if thats the case then what good is your love if you just run around loving everyone.

i said running around loving everyone is what the truest does the best. she has done it in santa barbara in frisco in oregon in hawaii in san dieger in africa

and now in new mexico.

she is almost finished with getting her masters in loving the world from the university of new mexico state

and she will probably go travel the world and heal all the broken hearts of the planet

and lord knows they need healing.

we met in the island of vista on a spring night during a raging party.

i was with jeanine at the time and now they are very close friends.

we did so many things together over all of the years and im extremely grateful for all of them.

i hope she is doing well in the new part of mexico.

i hope she knows how important she is to me and to the world.

and i hope the whole chorus of angels who sings her name every time the wind breezes also whispers it in her ears from time to time.

for there is only one truest and she is magical and wonderful.

and today we celebrate the day she ascended down from heaven.

omg today is Danielle’s birthday

omg danielle is having her 24th birthday in the nude

and omg today she texted me to let me know, but who the hell doesnt know its her special day???

so i called her back immediately and was all happy birthday happy birthday

and she was all thanks thanks thanks

and then she told me the best news i had heard all day

danielle after many many many failed attempts has found a boyfriend!

youd think someone as fun and beautiful and funny as danielle should have men lining around the block

but little known fact about san dieger, where she lives, unfortch, is that its a sorta horrible place

particularly bad if you are a blonde bombshell with some smarts and a penchant for french films, european tennis, and long walks on the beach ending in hackey sack and white zin

apparently the san diegan fellas either want to date evil vixens or bubbly brain deads

but cupid finally found a great guy for our girl and you could hear her beaming over the phone

which is pretty much the best thing evar.

so happy birthday Danielle! so glad that things are going better down there!

now get him to move you back to LA and all will be well!

know who’s birthday it is?

my sister!

most people are all, omg you have a sister?

im all, omg YES

theyre usually like what does she do?

im all, if you only knew! its historic. it’s amazing. its nearly impossible.

but two of the best things shes done in the last 10 years was deliver unto the world

my sweet niece and nephew.

she also keeps my mom from being bored.

she also adopts animals and little black babies.

yeah, shes pretty much the polar opposite as me, in that instead of being selfish like moi

she gives herself and her home to the world.

it’s ridic a bit. and somehow shes going to spend her first Christmas in LA in years.

very excited about that.

so happy birthday Angie – cant wait to see you and the little ones next month!

today is gregg hartling’s birthday, he’s 24

gregg and his lovely bride gregg is the reason you like the way the busblog looks

gregg is the reason you like the way this blog performs

gregg is the reason when you click the magnifying glass a blimp appears.

he hand-drew everything you see here. he hand-coded everything else.

about this time last year i decided that i wanted to switch the nearly decade-old busblog from Blogger to WordPress.

i wanted to do it for several reasons, one of which was because i wanted to show people at the LA Times what a real wordpress blog could look and act like.

gregg had worked at the times with me back in the good old days and he was a longtime reader of the busblog even before we had met. thus he was the perfect man for the job.

getting thousands of posts from blogger to wordpress wasnt easy, and making that little twitter bird was also not so simple, but gregg did it, on budget, and it launched exactly when i wanted it to: during halftime of last years super bowl.

gregg and his beautiful bride (pictured) are now in costa rica, guatemala, or mexico city or somewhere south of the border, but he is still available to make your blog and/or website as killer as this one is. you can reach him at Incredibly Lifelike.

i am very grateful to know him and to have worked with him and i wish him a delightful 24th birthday. ole!