nothing in here is true

  1. Monday, August 17, 2020

    im writing about uber, something that should come easy 

    i did 5,000 rides over 6 years

    it was the joy of my life for a little while.

    i started this thing on Friday and here it is Monday night and i shoulda had it out sooner but i have something broken in me.

    it’s why i think i need a break. a two week break.

    its not that im lazy.

    andy warhol used to tell lou reed all the time “write a song today. write two.” i can do this. i know i can. everythings a distraction. everythings bad.

    the voices dont even know what to say. on this one theyre saying “this is wayyyy too long.” and “uber is gonna sue you!”

    both of which are lame.

    i cant concentrate.

    maybe its the rona.

    maybe its me.

    but damn i could write about uber all day, who by the way, may be pulling out of CA this week which is why i want to write it before they do it.

    then maybe i could do a follow up.

  2. Wednesday, August 29, 2018

    yesterday i was minding my own business when ping 

    i got an uber select call over in the fairfax district as i was heading home. i was exhausted and just wanted to crawl take a quick shower, drink a pop and fall asleep watching The Sopranos with the first long legged <s>blonde</s> brunette who cared to join me.

    But i hadn’t done much Ubering lately so i took the ride. how bad could it be? well when you think that they take you in the wrong direction. which in this case was good and bad because who doesn’t love Westwood.

    the dude was on a date, he asked if i wouldnt mind stopping at Whole Foods for flowers, i said no problemo (because that almost always guarantees a tip). at first he was quiet back there, tapping away on his phone. i had Miles Davis playing so i didnt care. WHO CARES ANY MORE?

    as we passed the Waldorf i asked him if he had been in there. he said no. i said if this date goes well maybe the next one should take place on the roof. then we started talking about Westwood and how cool it used to be. he is a native Los Angeleno and agreed. and we talked about this old theater and that one and all the cool places young people could go to there. he asked do you know where the Whole Foods is? i said, yea, that used to be a movie theater too! he was all, yes youre right!

    got the flowers, got to the girl’s house, she comes waltzing out looking like a million bucks. mama mia. and then i took them to a nearby restaurant. and he tipped me $5, which is great. shoulda been $10 but whatevs.

    before i got out of Westwood i got a new ping. two people on the south side of Wilshire. they were going to a Comedy show. we get talking, turns out the lady went to high school with my first california girlfriend so we talk about Malibu and Trancas and la la la la – it was a great trip. they too tip $5 so the total take home for 2 trips was like $70, which is better than i do all day on Birds, plus i dont have to wake up at the buttcrack of dawn.

    still did anyways cuz of my ridiculous body clock but who cares the cubs won the world series in 2016. life has lost meaning.


  3. Friday, June 29, 2018

    picked up this guy from a fancy hotel 

    he didn’t talk much at all. he was on his phone.

    we were going to Mt. Olympus which is way up in the Hollywood Hills.

    My GPS told me to go up through the Beverly Hills and then take Mullhulland along the edge of seventeen.

    the sun was setting. a bunch of people had pulled over to watch it.

    but he was still on his phone.

    i was playing Thelonious Monk’s “Blue Dream”

    finally i said, “this is the prettiest you’ll ever see the Valley.”

    he looked up and grunted something and looked back down.

    i thought, i am so lucky. so blessed. so loved.

    dropped him off.

    thought about only giving him 4 stars cuz he made me wait at the hotel

    and didn’t know enough about life to enjoy the ride.

    but one shouldnt judge.

    maybe he was in the middle of a flame war.

  4. Saturday, June 16, 2018

    i drove a big powerful movie executive on thursday 

    everything about her was smooth.

    perfectly dressed. great sunglasses.

    picked her up somewhere classy, dropped her off at a studio.

    the whole time she was on the phone with this one and that one

    and she was happy and smart and eloquent

    and so insightful about this big director

    and how to tell in an email if he had been drinking

    because if he had you can disregard the tone.

    she and i never talked but by piecing together the cast of characters

    it was easy to find her imdb.

    and when i got to where she had started in hollywood

    i totally understood why she had such an even keeled disposition.

    cuz that show was incredible.

    even though i worked at e! and now where i do,

    i have learned way more about hollywood from driving people in an out of century city

    for uber

    because these people are always on the phone

    and this city is way smaller than it appears.

    i just wish i knew who they were first because we would have better convos.

  5. Sunday, May 27, 2018

    had lunch with a passenger 

    started out as it usually does, i picked her up at her hotel in beverly hills, she said she needed to go to a specialty curtain boutique.

    the hotel valet guy loaded some luggage into her trunk. but we were going the opposite direction of the airport.

    whatever. im not there to pry.

    but who are we kidding, im tony pierce. all i do is pry.

    she was a nice white lady in her 60s with a big coat on and a big purse. not at all snooty or snotty like youd think a lady coming out of a 90210 hotel would be. which is one of the nice things about life: the little surprises.

    before we made it a mile she was talking about weed and howard stern and i knew we were going to be friends.

    turns out she has several homes. a summer home in the Big Sky country, one in Palm Desert and condos here and there.

    not only had she done well but her husband and his family came from wealth – but you wouldnt know it from her clothes

    her attitude or her likes and dislikes.

    she seemed very much a mature hippie who was grounded enough to have sifted out the baloney

    and smart enough to appreciate the things that matters.

    in her case it was honesty, joy, good relationships, and quality.

    so when we made it near the Pacific Design Center she said, i will be going to the airport in an hour or so, i would love for you to be my driver. how do we arrange that?

    i said, i would like that too, but i can’t make any guarantees that i will be around here in an hour, my next ride might take me to orange county for all i know, but here’s my card. call me when you are ready to rock.

    i circled back to the academy because i needed to pee. and when i was reading the uber facebook groups someone mentioned that there was no surge on Uber X, and wasnt that odd because this was Memorial Day Friday and typically the surge would be 2.0-2.5x

    then someone asked is it a glitch?

    so i switched the app from Select (the luxury rides) to X (the typical rides) and holy guacamole it was surging at 3.6x. sometimes when a glitch happens it bumps all the drivers off the platform for a moment but then the uber computers see passengers hailing cars but no cars so the surge jumps up — and quickly — and any driver who can get online will get a ride at more than triple the fare.

    so i promptly pulled up my pants and ran to the garage and while i did i got a ping nearby at the glorious 3.6x rate.

    because i knew i had this nice woman probably calling me, i didn’t care when the new ride was going to be not the longest. who doesn’t want to make an extra $10 on a little jaunt?

    that guy was cool. his face seemed odd like maybe he was a burn victim. and i did pick him up near a bunch of doctors offices. and along the way he asked if we could stop by a gas station for ice and i was all, only if you invite me to the bbq. and he said, bring the whiskey and your on. we laughed. i got him to the spot. he got the ice. we got to his pad and as i was driving back toward WeHo she called me.

    i’ll be there in 10 minutes i told her and i was. but along the way i saw he had tipped me $5, meaning i made $16 on that little break, and i got to take a leak. thanks God!

    picked her up and she was all, make sure you take La Cienega. i said i will go any way you want, this is your dime. and we talked about her Tesla and how she saw the Beyonce show at Coachella because a friend of hers does the art there and had some extra Artist passes and we talked about how she has been married since she was 20 and theyre still together and we just had the best time.

    as we approached LAX she asked, so what will you do now? i said, i will probably go to In n Out then cruise down the 1 towards Santa Monica and see if i get lucky.

    she said, In n Out? my plane doesn’t take off until 90 minutes from now. Care if I join you? and i said ahahaha not at all!

    so we went to the drive thru and she gave me $20 and hopped out to go to the bathroom and she hopped back in and we got our food and i thought she wanted to take it on the plane. but she said, you can pull over here.

    and she tucked a napkin into her shirt like charlie chaplin would do and we ate in the car watching planes take off and land.

    and i gave her back her $20 and said you have been such a delight, please allow me to pay for the burgers.

    and she said you are SO GOOD I MUST PUT YOUR NUMBER IN MY PHONE.

    and when i looked at the app, she snuck a great tip in there.

    and thats how i started my memorial day weekend.

  6. Saturday, April 28, 2018

    what would i do if i was truly free 

    or if i allowed myself to be truly free?

    i would read more. i would watch less tv. i would listen to all the music i love and not try so hard to learn about this new junk.

    i would swear more and never wear pants. i would go to church more. i would work out even less.

    id work on my crossover dribble. i would cook. i would clean.

    today i have to buy a printer and a shelf.

    i know amber likes me but she Loves tea and has nowhere to put her tea cup when she adjourns to bed

    currently shes using the window sill but a shelf would be better.

    a little one.

    one that hasn’t seen the evils of the world and only wants to hear sweet soul music and the murmurs of these two cats who snore when they snooze and startle easily

    im pitching this book, it wont make me rich, money is the fakeout the bible says and the richer my passengers are in my uber

    the quieter they seem.

    the happiest: me.

    so maybe i am free.

  7. Friday, April 27, 2018

    things i would do if i ran uber 

    people know me as a successful businessman, a powerful influencer, a bon vivant, and a deliverer of unsolicited advice.

    some of those are true. but the thing that im most expert at is uber, lyft and all things ride share.

    as you may know, Uber lost over $1 billion last quarter, which is nearly impossible to do when you are such a darling in the market that no matter how bad your PR team is or your leadership, people still use your services in droves.

    it’s also hard to blow that sort of change when, in theory, your overhead should only be software engineers, customer service reps, and paying off politicians.

    uber however has figured out ways to burn money via fines, robot car technology, and lawsuits. but as you can see from this example from an Uber Express Pool I drove yesterday, they also lose money by offering ridiculously low rides while paying the drivers what amounts to $37 an hour.

    Uber needs to knock it off and charge the correct amount.

    the experiment is over. people love ridesharing. they liked it from the very beginning when they were paying half what a cab cost. but for some reason Uber wanted to charge a quart of what a cab costs. they wanted to compete with busses. they wanted to then compete with their own drivers via automated cars. all of that has sent their profits spiraling down down down deep into the hole.

    there needs to be real minimum fares of $6 for X and $12 for Select. they need to reward frequent passengers with a free $12 ride for every 6th $12 ride.

    they should reward tipping by giving a 50% discount to every 10th tipper. they need to have a button that allows passengers to see if their favorite drivers (those who they have tipped) are nearby and let them select them for a slightly higher price (which would be split between uber and the driver). they need to have an option on the app that says I LOVE YOU I SERIOUSLY LOVE YOU BUT PLEASE DONT TALK TO ME IM SLEEPY OR SHY OR JUST WANT QUIET.

    they need to reward drivers who have a high rating with trips that they prefer. for example, I prefer long trips, some prefer short trips, I prefer trips to DTLA or LAX, some prefer trips to the Valley or the OC. if i am in Santa Monica and a request comes in for DTLA and i am close to 5 other available cars but i have a higher rating, I should get that call. because WHY WOULDNT YOU WANT YOUR HIGHER TICKET RIDES TO GET MATCHED WITH YOUR BEST DRIVERS?

    there should be an option for what sort of music you want to be played. or what news station you want on the radio.

    Uber has fallen into the trap that poor salesmen fall into: only believing that price price price is what is appealing to all customers. no, my friend, features, benefits, personalized tastes are the little things that people will pay a premium for.

    how about i am a woman who likes to take Uber Pool, perhaps theres a button that says “please only match me with other riders who are female”? Uber swears they are a tech company not a transportation company, so then excel at the tech part.

    partner with advertisers to partner with full time drivers to wrap their vehicles with ad wrap. then offer passengers a discount if they take rides in these vehicles. that way the passengers dont feel dumb in a Coke Adds Life car, and Coke gets their message out more.

    but the biggest thing i would do is i would pay the drivers 75% of the ride no matter what. the quality of drivers has dropped year after year because part time drivers just cant afford to drive their cars into the ground for peanuts. yes i can figure out how to make it work for me, but many drivers cant. weirdly uber has failed at figuring out how to benefit from those ignorant drivers, but maybe that shouldnt be their business model.

    maybe they should start hiring smart veteran uber drivers to run their company instead of these bros who wouldnt drive an uber express pool to save their lives, thereby never learning that you can make just as much on pool as you can on select if you do it right.

  8. Monday, April 23, 2018

    hey siri, remember that time i gave a fuck? 

    drove two japanese girls from beverly hills to newport beach.

    they were quiet and shy and incredibly beautiful.

    talked super quietly to each other, giggled, checked their phones.

    usually a 90 minute ride would include colorful conversations, mutual discoveries,

    and beautiful tales from our unique walks through this so called life

    but i never pushed, and they never asked, so in 20 minutes they were snoozing in the back.

    i played the sirius venus channel quietly: modern tunes by women singers.

    traffic wasn’t bad and when we got there i asked quietly

    “is this a motel we are going to?”

    they said, even quieter, “yes the blah blah on the beach hotel”

    so i went where i was supposed to go, a little street that dead ended at the beach

    the sun was setting, but not in a spectacular way.

    i took the two huge suitcases out of the trunk and said, “im sorry you couldnt get closer”

    they laughed and weirdly there was no sign that said Hotel

    and they looked around and began wandering

    without their luggage!

    but i was already driving back out of the narrow street.

    hoping theyd find their hotel. hoping it was just a door or two away.

    i was in a rush to get back to the safety of hollywood.

    and on the way home i was sure they would give me a less than perfect rating because i didnt show them

    exactly to the door.

    but this morning i looked and voila

    they tipped me $20 on the $160 fare.

    arigato sleeping girls!

  9. the first rule of Uber is don’t pick up Uber Pool 

    the second rule is don’t ever pick up Uber Express Pool.

    these are the short-sided mantras left by inexperienced but extremely vocal drivers on Facebook Uber groups.

    any time someone posts a screenshot of a ride and it says Pool, or heaven forbid Express Pool, the overnight know-it-alls type brilliant things like Pools are for Fools.

    then they call each other Ants as a slur for dutifully picking up all rides for low pay.

    the truth however is more subtle. like in most things.

    hidden among the not-so-small print of the Pool Rules is if you pick up Rider A and it’s surging at 2.0x, then you will get a double fare for all the riders you pick up in that pool.

    So when i saw there was an express pool request coming out of CAA in Century City, I figured this fool wants to go to LAX super cheap, and I will be able to get a ride *from* LAX at 2x.

    or at least that would be a possibility that I would hope for.

    what i got was actually better.

    i picked up a very attractive young lady who turned out to be Molly Bloom’s lawyer. Bloom of course is the writer of Molly’s Game, one of my top 4 favorite films of last year.

    Mollys Game / Star Wars / Lady Bird / Florida Project

    she was headed to meet with Molly at a fashion designer’s daughter’s mansion atop a Beverly Hills hill.

    as we drove to the gated community she told me that she helped co-write certain aspects of the script with Aaron Sorkin.

    was that totally intimidating? i asked her of working with the lauded writer of the West Wing, Moneyball, Sports Night, and others.

    no, he was all ears and a total pro, she said.

    the thing about Uber is no one is going to get rich except Uber. the drivers will spend hours and hours and eventually wear their cars down to the nub, so the question is: did you learn anything, did you meet cool people, did you see cool things, and was it worth your money?

    when you get to spend 20 minutes with someone super interesting who can answer all of your little questions about one of your favorite films, that’s priceless to me.

    Me: OK in the film the poker games were at the Four Seasons on Doheny. Is that where they were?

    Her: At first they were at the Viper Room and when they got bigger we took them over to the Peninsula.

    Me: Was Michael Cera’s character really Tobey Maguire?

    Her: Yes.

    Me: Why not just use Tobey Maguire?

    Her: [Redacted]

    Friday after work I got a 2x surge of these two Japanese girls from Beverly Hills to Newport Beach. I ended up with $129. Everything evens out.

  10. Wednesday, April 18, 2018

    it’s not easy to get me jealous 

    but right now ive got friends in Egypt checking out the pyramids and in Kuwait playing video games with our troops

    yesterday i had an interesting dilemma. it was surging 2.5x on Uber but i got a ping on Lyft Premium (which is like a 3x surge).

    when i got the Lyft request i saw it was from a gated community near a country club and every time ive picked up someone there it was a short, irritating ride.

    and now that Uber and Lyft tells you whether or not it is a long trip or not, i knew this Lyft ride wasn’t going to be a long ride.

    so i was tempted to cancel it but i had just lectured all these dumb young kids on the Uber facebook page that you shouldn’t cancel a guaranteed decent ride in hopes that you will get a big fat long ride in a minute or two.

    traffic was bad where i was gonna pick them up and again i was tempted, but the Lord led me out of temptation and i got to where i needed to be and there they were waiting for me.

    one of the things about these rides is there is the small chance that as you are driving they will say, oh we didnt mean to drop us off here (a short ride) we meant for you to take us Alllllllll the way over here (a long, profitable ride).

    but the other pleasant surprise is they can give you a $10 tip because they rich as hell and cool and appreciated you and are good hearted.

    and thats what happened. a $10 tip on a $21 ride.

    still i want to see the pyramids soon!