everyones favorite piano teacher Zulieka will write you a letter

zuliekafor years and years and years i have been reading the subtly sensual words of Zulieka Unstrung.

Anti may have been the first person to tell me about her, but who knows, it was so long ago.

the one time we met she had a glow about her and it turned out she was (unbeknownst to her) preggo!

since then she has delivered two adorable babies and has moved from springsteens Nebraska

to Aerosmiths Massachusetts

because she’s raising her brood she doesnt have a lot of time to write on her always great blog but for the right price will write to you personally.

loyal readers will know that like many americans the Unstrung’s aren’t filthy rich

so Z figured why not throw a PayPal button out there and give the people something they probably havent had in quite a while:

a personal, handwritten letter written to them by a beautiful woman.

mama mia.

so for just $10, pretty much all of your USPS dreams will come true.

talk about a win win!

will campbell writes in

pizza cupcakes

he says: “I wore the eight ball pin briefly as a buck private last century up until the LAPC fouled up my awards entries. I probably wouldn’t have won anyway, but I still haven’t forgiven the organization. Putting you on its board is a positive step. Congrats, Tony.”

i say: all wrongs will be righted. email me the details and lets see what i can do.

hey its anti and tanky at old tony’s

anti and tanky

there was a time, not all that long ago, when it seemed like almost errryone had a blog

and they were all relatively awesome.

two of the more interesting characters from the beach communities were Anti and Big Tanky.

as time went on they became less interested in giving the world a glimpse of their lives

and you dont realize how much you have missed out until you catch up with them,

as i was able to do the other day at Old Tony’s in Redondo Beach.

im happy to report that one of the webs favorite couples are still living a life of marital bliss a short walk away from the crashing waves with the happiest dog you ever met, a rescue named Lola.

we talked about bloggers of old and those who have made impressive comebacks.

we drank and ate fried cheese logs

and walked around the charming and odd boardwalk.

i know if i lived by the beach id be bffs with anti and tanky so it was nice to hear crazy stories and tell a few.

old tonys

but the saddest tale they told me was that Old Tony’s is on shaky ground as the pier’s lease with the city is about to expire and locals fear that the new lease owners will raise the rent so high that they’d be forced to shutter.

the easy reader news did a story about it last month that i found last night that made me feel a little less nervous about the future of the divey bar with the greatest view and ambiance.

Councilman Steve Aspel said the city would not abandon Tony’s. But he also said that in order for the restaurant to obtain a long-term lease, the Trutaniches would have to commit to major capital reinvestment.

“We made it pretty clear that anyone who comes in there as a master leaseholder, they have to negotiate with Tony’s first,” Aspel said. “That is going to be one of the deal points. It’s not like anybody is anywhere close to saying let’s kick out Old Tony’s….Now, in a perfect world, we’d extend their lease, but in my mind the only way we are giving Tony’s a long-term lease is if they commit to upgrades. We want Tony’s to stay the way it is but we also want to make it better.”

Aspel said many of the people protesting the Tony’s leasehold situation hadn’t been at the restaurant in decades.

“I always ask, ‘When was the last time you were there?’” the councilman said. “A lot of the people who love Tony’s haven’t been there in 20 years. They love it for nostalgia. We want to make it a moving operation, not just a place people say they had their first date in 1985.”

Now that I think of it, I get a little twitchy when people say  thinks like we want you to stay the way you are, but we also want you  to be better. As if I am not always trying to be better?

I hadn’t been to Old Tony’s in years, and I don’t know if it was just awesome to catch up with Tanky and Anti, but it seemed to me that Old Tony’s was even better than before.

Great bartenders and waitstaff, delicious drinks, decent food, hard rock music, plasma screens showing the game, and 360 views of the ocean and the beach.

if i was the new masterlease holder id say Tony’s dont change a damn thing.

Tracey from Canada asks…

from canada

i forgot to ask you a question. Are we still blog friends anyway?

Canada, whats with the insecurity? and who cares if america is friends with you? all we’ll do is pollute your air and impose our empirical ways on your natural springs.

but seriously unless you have done me wrong in ways that are obvious and dramatic and bizarre and clearly mean why wouldnt i want to be blog friends with you? especially if youre creative and writing every day and trying new things and attempting to push the medium? doesnt everyone want to be friends with those people and not friends with the former?

some people want drama. i get that. and im not judging. but i dont. im boring. i just want peace and love. like ringo. its from that place that im at my most creative. my mind can be clear. my thoughts can be pure.

i know i wrote some weird ass ish when ive been depressed or tortured or surrounded by the nonstop action of the xbi but id rather have just been in the bleachers in the dog days of summer with my shirt off  with a few friends betting on which infielder would touch his junk first.

dont be fooled by the trappings im a simple man.

and for you tracey, who i have always admired in many ways, especially your ability to dream out loud and show the world all the places youd rather live, which, if i read properly, would be the 70s, i will tell you this short little story about yesterday when we were checking out of the Palms.

if i have learned one thing in life is this: some people you can buy off, some you can rent. but sometimes when you give them too much money it defeats the purpose and instead of having their silence in your back pocket, a few dead presidents can open their mouths wider than you intended.

phoned up the bell boy. we had like 8 bags 14 floors up. we were exhausted but motivated to bail for LA.

dude arrives and i noticed a scar that you may not have recognized but if you had been in the xbi youd have seen a mile away.

i put the $5 bill back into my swimsuit shorts and pulled out a $20. why? because i have a notifier on my car that screams xbi and i knew the bell boy would see it as soon as i lifted my trunk.

bro took the bags, we met him downstairs, the car is pulled around, the trunk is raised and instead of him saying something about the car he spotted something inside the car that had fallen out of bag: a small bag of perfectly wound 550 cord used typically by paratroopers, spies, and oh someone who may have flown a black helicopter occasionally known as chopper one.

chatty mcchatty goes “hey who’s 550 cord is this?” as if we were not in las vegas, a wonderful town, but swarming with those who lets just say have ended up on the ass end of some 550 in their day at the hands of the xbi.

i lowered my sunglasses to look at him. he didnt get it.

“go on any interesting missions when you were in the service?” i asked to give him a hint.

“yeah i was supposed to go to kabul but i broke my back.”

i tried so hard to just nod and keep loading the trunk.

and then he saw the identifier.

and whispered


and i looked at him without smiling this time.

and he shut the hell up.

i have enough drama in my life.

i really just want peace & love now.

sad day on the LA Times blogosphere

today we say goodbye to Countdown to Crawford

Crawford was one of my favorite LAT blogs. not just because it was one of my first new blogs at the Times that blossomed into something far better than i ever imagined. not just because for a little while there was a blogger on Air Force One writing several times a day for the LA Times. but maybe because it was such a joy watching two seasoned journalists, Johanna Neuman and James Gerstenzang, take to blogging like they had been doing it all their lives.

at first Jim was concerned that he would have to spice up his posts with “spin” or “attitude” like our other political blog Top of the Ticket, but i assured him that not every blog needed humor or snark or sarcasm. i suggested that the Bush Administration was fascinating enough all by itself, that all he needed to do was tell us as much as he could about it. all this blog needed was a mirror, i said, not a circus mirror, but a clean one. they both played it straight, and once they got comfortable their sense of humor seeped through in a respectful way. it was perfect.

because of delays the first week (or was it two) was written primarily by Johanna because the launch was pushed back to right when Jim was to go on vacation. but even while he was on vacation he helped Johanna from the road. immediately they were a great team. two very different writing styles that proved that the idea of “voice”
was oftentimes overrated in terms of blogging, that indeed a good blog could be a duet or a chorus that could create a union a little different than the individual parts.

each month Crawford became more and more popular. always in the top 10 of our blogs (usually in the top 5), last month “the bush blog” attracted nearly 1 million pageviews, its all-time high. quite a testament to Jim and Johanna because think about October… all the news was about Sarah Palin and that black dude with a funny name. to be able to get almost 1 million pvs while covering an administration that noone was talking about, one that wasnt generating any news, is a damn miracle. keep in mind, they were able to blog multiple times a day, finding and posting photos, as well as moderating nearly 10,000 comments, all while maintaining their original responsibilities of filing different items for the newspaper.

i will miss working with Johanna and Jim a great deal, and we will all miss their terrific blog.

i must also thank two additional people for helping make this blog happen. the first credit should go to my boss Meredith Artley. she was the first person who i pitched the idea to. she has heard many blog pitches from me and many of them have gotten the thumbs down, rightfully. but when she heard this one she started brainstorming, she knew who should write it, and she knew who we should talk with to get it going. she believed in it immediately and without her support it wouldnt have happened.

the other person is National Editor Scott Kraft. when i went to Scott, a man i had never met before, i felt really uneasy because i didnt want to come across as disrespectful. i said, i liked the coverage that was often on the front page of the paper about the Bush Administration, but many of us news junkies wanted more. was there more? wasn’t it interesting that this group was flooring it as the clock ticked down whereas other administrations typically went on cruise control? arent there more stories than the one or two that hit the paper each day? could two or three people from the DC bureau write two or three posts and tell us some of the stuff that the paper would print if it had unlimited pages? thankfully Scott said, “im not sure, but lets see. lets try.”

so often people will say, “i dont see the possibilities, so, no.” Scott said, “i dont know whats there, but lets go for it anyways.” i have so much respect for that sort of attitude, and if Scott had said no it wouldn’t have happened. so major props to Mr. Kraft.

i only got to meet Jim and Johanna once. Johanna was out here during her summer vacation and Jim came to LA last month. both of them were blown away by their experience on Crawford. they both had the same wide-eyed thrill that you see from The Ticket’s andy malcolm. there is something about blogging that can energize veteran journalists in magical ways, and it was a total joy to see that in jim and johanna. i wish them both all the luck in the world.

dear amsterdam


amsterdamim writing you from your airport which is mellow and quiet and bright and clean. i miss you already.

last nacht you showed me whose boss. you led me to your bars and you sat me down and made me drink 130 of the 150 dutch beers that are worth a taste. they were all delicious.

then you introduced me to two people who knew a thing or two about the Canabis Cup and i knew i shoulda kept my mouth shut when i said that that stuff doesnt work on me any more, because these two dudes took me to a fancy club and we ordered the stuff and within 20 minutes i was spinning, and then i had to go outside to get my breath and then the cold winds slapped some sense in me but im only capable of a few seconds of sense and then im me again.

fortunately everyone was ready to go since i looked so green. so we walked. we walked down your beautiful streets. i didnt want to stop walking. i rode my free macbike over your roads and i loved each peddal and there i was walking in the middle of the night through your alleys and sidewalks and i loved each step.

i needed to hurl but i didnt want to hurl into your clean streets and adorable canals.

i tried so hard not to be the typical ugly american but there i was wasted off the herb and burping up beer. it was something the man with the camera had mixed in the joint i kept telling people but they just laughed at me and told me my Lakers ski hat was on crooked. one day i’ll have to tell you about the local who wanted to fight me over that hat.

you can diss kobe in compton but outside the 310 you better give respect to my man or i’ll teach you what 81 points feels like.

but the dutch are like me, lovers and jokers, not fighters. the worst they’ll do is jingle their bike bell at you telling you to get off the road.

or they’ll take pictures as youre totally trying to keep it together as you wait for your hotel to spin by.

buzznet stickerjustagirl and i waved goodbye to the 5 to 9 people who had joined us for drinks at the successful buzznet meetup. i wish i could remember what had happened there but all i remember were handing out stickers and buttons and drinking everything they put in front of me and loving all of it.

how do you do it amsterdam.

i got a cot so my guest could have my bed but before the dude had rolled it to my room my dinner was being flushed my desert was being drained and every puff i inhaled was being exhaled and i was embarrassed cuz justagirl had recently called me her bloggod. oh the emperor has no game. i walked out of the room just in time to tip the bellboy and hunt for water water everywhere but so little in the two liter jug.

she laid on my bed taller and younger than in her blog. i laid on the cot next to the awaiting toilet and we talked all night. as in all night. as in we only got one hour sleep cuz we were talking so long. then she woke me up, i packed, and we took the train to the airport and she said she hadnt lost all respect for me for not being mr superstar totally cool dude, and instead, mr average and typical american joe.

and her train rolled on to rotterdam and here i am in the airport and im trying to spend all my dutch coins but how much water does a man need to rehydrate?

and amsterdam you beat me this time, but next time im bringing my skateboard, im bringing a scarf, and im sticking to only drinking.

i seriously cant believe that i got to come here for free. a week wasnt long enough, which is odd to say for a small city, but theres so much to do here, theres so much to experience. i do hope i can return when its warmer, but after the first day the weather was no longer shocking, if anything it helped make the nacht stay longer.

i will miss you amsterdam, i will buy your flag from ebay, and i hope to get a tshirt before i get outta this airport.

all my love,


bicyclemark was the mvp of the week

miss amsterdam kept me up till 9:30 in the morning

amsterdamwhich was fine with me except i had to be over at led zeppelin square at 4:20p. its murphys law that no matter what time you commit to being somewhere somebody or something will do something to make you have to set your alarm to wake up.

and although im in a room right off a busy alleyway where people love to honk and yell at each other and ringing their bicycle bells, i can pretty much sleep through anything. especially if im in a hotel room with those thick drapes i love so much.

i woke up at 14:30 and it took me until 14:32 to realize i wasnt late, that indeed i had two hours to crawl off the bed, shower, eat something, and make it across town. fortunately my man bicycle mark was downstairs waiting for me and we went across the street to rent me a bicycle.

MacBikes is giving all the blogger in amsterdam bloggers free rentals on bicycles. theyre not mountain bikes and theyre not ten speeds. in fact the dude asked me “would you like hand brakes or man brakes?”

man brakes, apparently, is when you brake by the old reverse pedal, like my first bike ever.

why arent there man brakes in america on mountain bikes?

america blogso me and bicycle mark rode through amsterdam and it was awesome but very cold. yes i have a jacket but i have no gloves. its three degrees out there. people dont have gloves or hats on. miss amsterdam had a skirt on and stockings. people are out at all hours. the weather doesnt effect them.

made it to the american cafe which isnt really a place id want to go to if i saw it in a brouchure, but its actually a super classy like super dooper classy bar. you feel like youre at the holland country club.

huge windows. people in suits drinking and cutting croissants with a knife. hot women looking for young bloggers to domesticate. huge glasses of beer.

we drank with john aravosis from the americablog, the one that broke the jeff gannon story because he had proof that gannon/guckert had posted onto gay websites that he was indeed a male prostitute.

now the americablog is in the Technorati Top 40 and with elections down the road, more success is in its future.

after drinks mark walked us across the square to a little italian place where all the pasta dishes were super cheap. in fact six of us ate and drank for 46 euro. i had a very rich lasagne that didnt skimp on sauce or cheese.

people can smoke at the table. i like that.

i dont smoke but i like it when people have freedoms to do things.

likewise i dont go to hookers, but i feel jealous of those who do go because it seems like fun. when i got here i decided that if i was going to have a hooker id get two of them because anyone can get one girl, but for most of us it will take money to get two girls at the same time. so save up. to pay for just one girl, thats just laziness and lack of creativity.

have i mentioned that its butt cold here? riding the bike even with my laker knit cap, my ears were absolutely freezing. as were my hands before i got some gloves at a convenience store slash head shop.

amsterdami asked mark if it was okay to smoke pot at the table and he said no its considered rude. that people smoke cigarettes at the table but not pipes or cigars or weed. for that he says people walk outside.

the place was packed, mostly with young people.

everyone at drinks and at dinner were democrats living abroad who knew everything about politics all around the world. and all the political bloggers, and all the columns, and all the news shows. conversations darted to one international topic to the next with ease and agreement and wonder and expertise. everyone knew all the characters, leaders, history, and fuckup.

and some of the attendees had no televisions.

john is funny, knowledgeable, polite, and alot like people i knew in chicago, where it just so happens he grew up outside of. he had no idea i was even a blogger until hours into the night, which is why i laugh any time anyone thinks im wellknown within the blogosphere.

bicyclemark is portugese who was either born or grew up in brooklyn has been here in amsterdam for five years. he speaks perfect dutch. lots of these nondutchies spoke perfect dutch. how do i know its perfect? never you mind.

i rode home in the cold but now i had gloves so it was so nice, except for the freezing ears, and stopped off to get a sandwich at the cafe slash head shop. got a two liter and a small can of ruffles. 10 euro. how a snack costs more than a sitdown dinner isnt something that i spend too much time thinking about.

mostly i think about how it is that i can sit in my room and watch the olympics in dutch in total satisfaction. it makes you feel like youre really watching the real olympics because its not so USA-centric. i sat through an hour and a half tonight and i havent seen one american.

apparently we’re not the only ones in the games.

got home and my room was a mess.

so i turned off the lights

and wrote this to you drew barrymore.

happy birthday yesterday.

drewseum + bicyclemark + americablog

dear xiaxue,

Xiaxue aka Wendyfirst let me thank you for linking to me and talking about me.

yes, it’s true that i posted your picture the other day and i didnt link to your site or mention your name. im a very bad man and somewhat rude, and i want to change that behavior because i know the rules of blogging and i know better than that.

i used your picture because you reminded me of a girl i dated who is just as beautiful as you. you both have gorgeous hair and some of your features are quite similar.

i like your blog very much and i am glad to hear that you are becoming so popular on the blogosphere, and im happy that youre a fellow blogger-user.

sometimes people write me nice emails and they tell me that im the greatest and its nice to hear but sometimes i want them to tell me what they like so much about my blog or me because deep down i fear that they arent really telling me that they like me as much as theyre telling me that they like the pictures of the hot babes that i put up or they like the pics of the funny things that i put up or they just like the fact that i call president bush an asswipe.

therefore i will tell you about my favorite post of yours.

i loved it when on saddam husseins’s birthday last year you talked about how you measured men’s penises. i particularilly enjoyed the fact that you didnt measure using the traditional means like we do here in the US: a ruler, a shoe, or a baseball bat.

once i was on the web cam with a nice young lady and she started taking her clothes off. then she invited me to take my clothes off. i live in california and it was warm that day so i obliged her and did as i was asked. her eyes got huge and she was all OMG OMG OMG.

i was all ????

she was all youre gigantic!

trust me, xiaxue, i am the furthest thing from gigantic. i am very average. painfully average. i asked this young woman how many pensises she had seen before and she told me and it was a reasonable number and i put the camera next to my thigh so she could get a closer look and she got the biggest smile on her face.

i was very afraid that if one thing led to another she would find herself at my house, or viceversa, and she would be incredibly disappointed, so i looked around my home for a ruler so i could show her that her perception was incorrect.

all i could find were cd cases so i put my fella up next to a cd case and she was very impressed with the comparison. she typed “cd’s are about 5 inches and youre bigger than that by a lot!”

so i found a standard peice of paper which was 8 1/2 inches by 11 inches. (do they have inches in singapore?) and she was still smiling and laughing, in a good way. so then i put everything i could up against it, my shoe, my boom box, my remote control, my bowling ball, my coffee table. it didnt matter what i put next to it she just laughed and laughed and gave me the thumbs up via the web cam.

so im glad that you have figured out a better standard in which to measure, so thank you.

and again, please accept my apologies for not identifying you and linking to you. i meant no disrespect, i just didnt want people to think that i was talking about you when i was talking about someone very dear to me who simply resembeled you oh so slightly.

continued success in all of your blogging adventures, sweet xiaxue. i promise that i will not only link you as soon as i get home but when my camera is returned from the shop i will join all of you funloving kids in mr. brown‘s “im too sexy for my blog” conga line of photographs.

much love from hollywood,

mr pierce

xiaxue + xiaxue + xiaxue