busblog

nothing in here is true

  1. Friday, October 11, 2019

    LA is burning about 20 miles north 

    maybe 15, who knows. but i can smell it and my nose is irritated so ive been blowing it

    its sorta too bad i wasn’t a dad because i can tell

    easily

    if someone had been smoking in a house. perfectly.

    YOU GIRLS COME DOWN HERE RIGHT THIS MINUTE

    what daaaaaaaad? 

    I’m going to smell your fingers! Someone has been smoking?

    OMG gross much? Geeze! 

    Oh I’ll show you gross, young lady. I’ve got a half a bean burrito in me itching to fumigate this villa. Now tell me who has been smoking!

    this week i was a busy body. and all of it made me feel so thankful that i was raised by a woman who was not mentally ill or violent or crazy or mean.

    i interviewed an amazing doctor who taught me about violent criminals whose psychosis was triggered by this or that. we talked about the Joker movie and how she would have treated him. we talked about Kanye and Britney and racism and DNA and the holocaust

    and it was all the things i always wanted to do at the previous gigs but for some reason i was not trusted or the bosses felt weird or… whatever. it never happened and now it is and i feel so liberated and vindicated because these stories are being so well received and i wanna rent a hot air balloon that says Told Ya on it, and shower the globe with marshmallows.

    why those? who knows. who cares. cuz it would be funny. and it wouldnt hurt anyone. just like me.

    then i did a bunch of editing and researching for stuff coming down the pike.

    then yesterday i went to Compton and Inglewood and ALSO did stuff ive been dying to do: talk to THE CENTER of LA about something of global importance: the impeachment of the POTUS.

    and when you pitch ideas in the real world, so often they are shot down before you can get out of the room. “come on tony, what do you Think those people are gonna say?”

    we dont know. we never know. did we think Reagan would trade arms for hostages? did we think Bush 1 would puke at a dinner? did we think Clinton would turn a giant deficit into a giant surplus? did we think the GOP would be totally cool with a US president being super chummy with the Russians? did we think a bunch of GOP senators would fly to Russia on the 4th of July and come back and lie about it?

    if people are anything they’re unpredictable AF. which is why i love them. which is why i ask them the most basic questions and often i am rewarded with surprising answers.

    just like i was treated to in Compton and Inglewood where a young black lady said she thinks Trump is bad but Pence would be worse, so no. And an old black man said he likes Trump for a variety of reasons but he cant get too into it because his gf would get pissed at him. which is REAL, grampa!

     

  2. Wednesday, September 25, 2019

    omg im so happy 

    worked so hard. did the things in the daytime. did some phone things.

    was able to walk around the neighborhood during some of the phone things cuz i gotta get in my steps.

    still had time to procrastinate a good deal before i finished the last 2/3rds of my super giant piece. the longest, most epic piece about a chicken sandwich that you’ll ever see, but i finished it, i learned how to get into the CMS, i put it in there, hit draft and

    could not believe that it was done, and it was funny, and it was real and it was me me me.

    the first thing i did there was fun and punny and sorta great. but then i struggled, which hurt my confidence and slowed me down on this one. i have limited attention span for these things. i wanna talk to the people, get it down and go on to the next thing. if i feel bored with it then thats what will come out.

    but this puppy. once i got going again tonight. once i turned off facebook and trump and blocked out all the distractions, good shit happened. and i was laughing. i totally forgot that i laugh when i write. had it been that long?

    the key, for me, at least, is talk to lots of people and ask all the questions. and laugh during that part too.

    i am so blessed to be doing this. especially now. particularly with and for these people.

    God is good.

  3. Saturday, September 21, 2019

    what have i been doing? 

    gurrrrl ive been working working working.

    thats the thing, give a man a fish he will eat for a day, let a man run his own fishing boat he will fish all day and night

    and think of ideas and talk to people and write and talk and write and scheme and plot and plan and not sleep and not eat and talk and figure out

    and parts of his brain that havent been loved in sooo sooo long will emit clouds of smoke and gears will turn and things will go slowly at first but damnit if this machine wasnt ready for this, if i wasnt built for this

    if i wasnt born this way.

    and baby im telling you right here right now, i was meant to do the job that i am doing right now and the only thing slowing me down is some outside forces which will be cleared up super soon

    and then the rock will begin.

    because it’s about writing though there needs to be a bit of structure and thats coming too. in part is the lesson i learned at UCSB which was “when it’s light out, study, when it’s dark out party.”

    i need to write in the daytime now and study at night because my body has changed. my magic is in the AM and i get so distracted at night. maybe this is because i was sitting on the bench for half of this year turning into mush?

    maybe it’s because i havent written news and features in far too long. FIVE YEARS david bowie i was doing basically PR, trying to do news but being nudged into a different place.

    remember in Moneyball when Brad Pitt wanted Scott Hattenberg to play first base and they asked the dude, hey its easy to play first and the dude said, it’s actually incredibly difficult. writing news is not as easy as it seems. but i can do it. and i have the freedom to do it the way i want. which is priceless. a dream come true. and i thank the Lord above for this blessing. and just wait what i do with it.

    speaking of the pretty boy. i fell asleep in an afternoon matinee of the new Brad Pitt movie because i was so tired. i see why people do cocaine now. but id never do that for a few reasons. death. expense. and the last thing i wanna hear from St. Peter is come on dude.

     

  4. Friday, March 15, 2019

    how would you describe your writing style 

    yesterday i had my second job interview. unlike the first, this was in person.

    even though i generally feel comfortable talking with people, i don’t like wearing a suit (because I think it’s a lie), and i would feel very awkward being forced to bad mouth any of my previous experiences. everywhere ive worked, people are just trying to make the best decisions given the options in front of them.

    so driving over there i was like an hour and a half early. i walked around an old Staples store which had the worst energy. the two dudes working behind the counter were slow and had difficulty keeping eye contact with who they were speaking to. many of the shelves were either empty or lacking.

    there was no one to give any help in the copy machine or computer area. the computers, btw, are infamous for earning more than the employees.

    and the parking lot was packed.

    lets just say i was glad i wasnt interviewing to work there.

    when i got to the place i was all dressed up for, i was asked some questions that i hadn’t expected at all. which is good. i like being pleasantly surprised.

    one of the questions was, how would you describe your writing style (the job was a writing gig)

    my first thought was: if charles bukowski wasnt a drunk, was black, and went to uc santa barbara.

    but i didnt say that because it would have broken my mothers heart.

  5. Sunday, January 6, 2019

    dear nephew, after that devastating bears loss 

    dear tyler,

    what a game that was. what a beautiful and terrible game.

    nobody will tell you this because nobody is like your uncle tony. but heres the secret about being a bears fan, that’s different than being a cub fan.

    and i can say this because ive been a huge fan of both teams for a very long time. how long? let me just say: i watched bears game on a NEW black & white tv that your grandma bought.

    i bet youve never even seen a black n white tv. and for that alone you should be happy.

    anyways heres the secret about the bears: they are going to break your heart more often and more painfully than the Cubs ever will.

    the thing about the Cubs is they’re the lovable losers. even this season they lost and we loved them. but the Bears, for some reason, always gets our hopes up. they always have players who are so outstanding that you think, oh shit they can and SHOULD win this game.

    and they get you right up to the end and they stab you in the heart.

    then they get your heart and put it in a pie and put the pie in a box of money, the biggest box youve ever seen, and they give that box of money to jackasses like jay cutler or kickers named cody.

    so heres what you need to do. you need to use that feeling inside of you and put it to good use.

    i dont know about you, but heres how im feeling: like fucking shit.

    but fret not, because shit is in this world for a good reason. you think im kidding but im not. ask your grandma. shit is extremely valuable for growing the most beautiful things in the world. green grass and pretty flowers. in fact the best shit cost money and people seek it out because the better the shit the bigger and more colorful the beauty.

    and this is why wrigley field is the most gorgeous place in the world.

    so use that shittiness that you feel. use it to make beauty. get your dads keyboards and hook up your headphones to it and play. so many beautiful songs have been based on sadness. i would never lie to you.

    either the songs were made from the shittiness of the pianist’s life, or that crappy feeling drove that person to learn to play as a means for escape or a way for them to express themselves other than doing what they really wanted to do like take a giant torch to the entire city and start over.

    now uncle tony wasn’t very good at the piano, or the saxaphone or the drums, but when i was in high school we had a dog who died. Chumbi. old Chumbi wasn’t crazy about me and i wasn’t nuts about him neither but when he died i was super sad. so i went down in the basement and i beat the crap out of those drums. for an hour i was the greatest drummer in the world.

    and when it was over i learned a valuable lesson. that i should stick to writing.

    which is my final bit of unasked for advice. turn that shitty feeling inside into words. if you dont wanna show anyone, fine. fuck em. just write. write and write and write. write truthfully, write a bunch of lies, write a cool combo of the two, but get the poison out. turn it into something that never existed before. use that shit to grow something excellent.

    you might suck at first but keep going. everyone sucks at first.

    cody the kicker should have practiced more too.

    dont grow up and be like him.

    practice.

    i love you very much. next year they’ll break our hearts in new ways. so we got that going for us.

    your uncle,

    tony

  6. Saturday, November 3, 2018

    theres two ways to write 

    the first is you can pretend that the whole world is going to pay attention to what you are saying

    and they will change their minds when they read your incredible insights

    and rainbows will appear and bunnies and butterflies and fireworks and the cubs will win the world series

    that is not how i write.

    the other way is to pretend that nobody will ever read it and there is no audience and it’s just you

    and the Good Lord above and all of the angels and saints

    and they’re probably too busy to look closely, they are just happy youre not out in the streets.

    occasionally someone reads it and i am genuinely surprised because i have tricked myself into believing that not even the sweet angels who root me on will read it

    and sometimes someone will ask me, why are you being so mean with your writing

    and i will literally have to read it again because when i write i just let it out and commit zero of it to memory.

    but then i will reread the masterpiece in question and i will usually surmise “you call that mean?”

    heres what i think mean is. i think its mean to bore your readers.

    i had a teacher in college once, and he was legendary in our school, which doesnt mean he liked me, im pretty sure he thought i was overrated and to be honest i dont remember ever writing anything great in his classes

    but i did like one thing he said. he said the worst thing you can do to your readers is waste their time.

    do not bore them.

    thus, if i criticize a writer for doing the worst thing a scribe can do, that is not mean.

    whats mean is not passing along the sentiment and working with that writer, despite how veteran he may be

    despite how many stupid awards he has “won” and despite what emails come in or dont come in.

    whats mean is letting someone who you know or work with or are close to slide into mediocrity.

    we are all in this together.

    some of us more than others.

    dig deep and get it together.

  7. Wednesday, May 2, 2018

    it’s been a stressful week and it’s all my fault 

    when you’re a writer, an editor, or someone like me who pretends to be those things, you find yourself making work for yourself.

    you see something or you think of something and you say, “that thing oughtta be written about.”

    but that means you have to research it, talk to people, watch things, learn things, talk to more people, read and read and read and then finally write.

    as if the writing is the easiest part. IT’S ACTUALLY THE HARDEST.

    then you have to edit and if you’re lucky you get to watch someone else edit it. and if you’re super luck two people will edit it. and then you collect all that sweet sweet praise on twitter.

    the other day i interviewed a very very smart man and i asked some very dumb questions. because i am not smart. the good thing is the smart people Still have to answer your questions and when they do smarter things pop up.

    and if you can sit down with them long enough you will eek a smart question out and they will smile and amaze you with their brilliant answer and that will be the centerpiece of your story or it will be completely over looked by the audience who just came there for the pictures, but who cares you got paid and now you can go on to your next assignment which will be harder, scarier, and if you’re unlucky someone else has assigned it so now you gotta do their thing.

    it’s always better when it’s your thing but it’s also very hard. it’s like college and high school never ended. research, write an essay, hear the feedback, scribble in your Trapper Keeper, repeat.

    right now i have finished my first draft of what i wanna send to my editor. it’s good. it’s not great. and this was my scribbling into my folder. but time is money so hi bye.

  8. Thursday, February 1, 2018

    you’ll never feel at home in LA unless you keep moving 

    LA is huge.

    imagine the biggest place you’ve ever been in and quadruple it.

    that will just be the Valley, which you need to know if you are really to get LA.

    then quadruple it again and you’ve got South Central,

    which is where the secret soul of LA is. the actual heartbeat.

    the fakers fly right over south central via overpasses or freeways , but if you live here long enough

    and if you start meeting the right people you will go to a house party off Crenshaw

    you will get your haircut on Florence,

    you might even find yourself at a sample sale near Carson.

    LA goes all the way to Long Beach and inside the weirdest dead ends of downtown.

    everyone hikes Runyon, but if i was the failing New York Times and their laughing stock of an LA bureau here’s what i would do:

    there is a stretch of LA from Santa Monica to DTLA thats as wide as Pico to the south to Sunset to the north.

    i would refuse to run any stories from that stretch an zero from downtown.

    i’d also ignore anything happening in the upper crust of Malibu, Manhattan and Redondo Beaches.

    why? because unless we are talking about crime, 90% of so-called news and features by the mainstream press happen in that narrow band.

    the Pulitzer Prize winning Jonathan Gold is beloved in LA because he uses the entire canvas, not just the same beaten path

    he ventures, he explores, he speaks Spanish, he talks to people of all skin colors and religious beliefs.

    LA is the home of more religions than any other city in the world.

    it is the 2nd largest Spanish speaking city on the planet.

    if all of your sources and all of your stories are about white folk, if all of your touchstones and goals and ideals are based in Caucasian ideals of the 1960s

    then you aren’t really telling the story of LA of today.

    i once dated a girl from canada who was blown away that so many billboards and handmade fliers were in Spanish

    and how many brown skinned people there were on the streets

    and Asians

    and Jews.

    she said, this isn’t what it looked like in “Clueless”.

    if you truly want to cover this city, and most of all, if you really want to love this city, you have to move out of West Hollywood

    you have to break up with your boyfriend,

    you have to stop taking taxis

    and most of all you should start driving for Lyft.

    then you will start to see the real story that is this beautiful city of angels.

  9. Saturday, July 2, 2016

    chuck klosterman was on tv, talking about creativity 

    art

    he said in order to induce creativity he gets himself bored.

    he said our problems is that are instantly entertained within seconds thanks to the internet.

    he said the best ways, though, to get your mind going is to

    go on a long boring walk

    with no music in your ears

    and no phone in your hand.

    what will happen is you might write a little song, you might think of a good topic for a book

    you might think of all the things you shoulda said to that one babe

    right before she cut off the light

    and i thought maybe thats why i think of so many good things in the shower

    its the one time when theres not a phone in front of me.

  10. Thursday, November 5, 2015

    the problem with kids in america 

    mary and her friendlook at me. i seem mild mannered. i look reasonable. im sanitary. i read the bible. most of the crimes on my record have been expunged.

    but inside im a dirty filthy man.

    i relate to mr charles bukowski and drunkards and druggies and losers and rejects and scumbags because if i hadnt caught a few lucky breaks i would ragtagged and imprisoned and probably dead by now.

    gone and forgotten.

    narry a headstone in a forgotten field in the middle of nowhere.

    but God has blessed me and looked out for me and surrounded me with friends from sea to shining sea. and i am grateful, make no mistake, i am.

    but i do my best to keep it real, especially when i write things down, because this is whats going to last more than the memory of me or any tomb marker or some jackhole’s biography of my “life”.

    so when i was invited to read at a rock show book reading i breathed two breaths. one, the inhale was “oh shit” and the other, the exhale was “just write the dirtiest thing you can, swear a lot, and no one will realize youre a disgusting fraud.”

    but then the host wrote an email just the other day saying that kids might be in attendance so make it PG-13 or PG and you should have heard the cursing that went on in my head.

    because once again children have ruined everything.

    i love my friends, and unlike many, my friends have the most beautiful intelligent talented kids alive. but they just ruined the greatest poetry reading i was about to give.

    i havent read in front of people in this entire century. i happen to think that poetry readings should be outlawed. nothing good happens there other than it is a fine remedy for insomnia. if the author’s lucky he’ll get a few phone numbers afterwards but even that will end poorly. but for friends i’ll do anything.

    but now, alas ive gotta do something for the kids?

    my whole life has been a struggle with people telling me i cant do things. not really, but it feels that way. dont ride your bike on the roof. dont swallow all of the cough medicine. why are you driving strangers around in your car?

    but i love my friends and id probs be homeless without them so i will accept the challenge and do the impossible and write something compelling and interesting and violent and sad and inspiring and it will be safe for an innocent little child to overhear.

    mumble mumble mumble mumble.