Monday, August 19, 2013

It gets better

So this would have been timely a year ago, but I didn't have the idea until watching a Newsroom episode last week (a show that is one year behind on current events.) Anyway, hang in there and never give up, it's a great message not just for suicidal gay kids being bullied by fucking losers, but for anyone who has ever felt oppressed. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Plausible Deniability

I'm not sure when blacking out stopped being cute and started being at best questionable. Despicable behavior that once earned you high fives in the frat kitchen now just makes my peers shudder. I honestly tell a story these days and offer up my fist for a pound, but my married coworkers just shake their head as if they now need to clean out their ears to clean out the filth that I just told them.

As I get older and older, the things that seem to matter to me seem to get more abstract compared to my age group. A normal 26 year old might get excited in a drop on interest rates in a 30 year mortgage. I get excited that my old dorm just got ranked the rowdiest in the nation by some bullshit blog. And while some may not feel nostalgia for the place they first hooked up with a minority, I think about that place still at least once a day. So congrats to Briscoe Shoemaker, and fuck your interest rates.

As I have oft stated, life is about doing what makes you happy. And although it might be a slight hindrance to quickly achieving my goals, I can't imagine a life where you don't go out and get fucked up with your friends to create fun memories (or lack there of) what I worry about sometimes is that I'm pulling a breaking bad and slipping slowly from social antihero to full blown villain. Allow me to explain.

Today at work someone got hurt, and my immediate thought wasn't, "gee that sucks, I hope she gets better soon!" It was fuck me, I'm going to have to stay late. Then I festered about how I wouldn't have time to get to the gym when I got home and my room would go uncleaned for another night, and I didn't take solace in this poor girl's misery until I found a way to use it to my advantage. I look like the hero for staying late tonight, a Tuesday, where there is nothing exciting going on. Now I can TOTALLY hold this over my boss's head and guilt her into letting me out early to get fucked up on the beach.

This selfishness is not isolated. My first instinct when I see a car crash is to think "wow, what a fucking dickhead that guy is. Now a ton of people are going to be late. I DARE a motherfucker to crash on the 405 southbound when I'm on my way home on a Thursday or Friday night. If is burning car didn't finish him off, I will put him out of his misery myself for delaying my drinking 20 minutes.

You can see how I am a tad nervous that my addiction to partying is spiraling out of control. I become increasingly irritable when I miss out on something potentially fun. Even though most nights are pretty average, I still have this idealistic vision in my head that I'm going to have the best night of my life every time I set out for the evening. Because despite my growing jaded cynicism I still have all the elements of an eternal optimist at heart.

All of this can lead to an empty search for happiness. Like how you would feel after an all night hook up with someone while the original non-clubby, slit my wrist version of "Summertime Sadness" plays in the background on repeat. It's awesome, but you leave in the morning feeling hollow.

Such was my Saturday. I woke up at 9am on 5 hours of sleep. (Not party related, I was on the late shift of work) and was dragged up to Malibu Wines. Now Malibu Wines is a lovely place full of lovely people, but it's also a place you can get tragically fucked up if you have a designated driver. So by 3pm I was about 3 bottles of Turtlerock Cab deep and I decided that a nap would be insufficient. SO upon returning to Venice I did the only reasonable thing I could think of...ordered 2 Domino's pizzas and switched to hard liquor.

Well you can guess where this leads, my last memory is chasing a dog around some strange apartment and barking at him, as drunks are wont to do. Allegedly, I would stay up drinking for a few more hours, see a bunch of people I know, embarrass myself in front of a few cougars at a bar and get kicked out by 12.

It would be fine if that was how the story ended but apparently I woke up zombified in the pregame house and attempted to find a bathroom at 4 o clock in the morning, causing me to knock on several locked doors and convince all the women living there that I had my mind on a little late night sexual assault.

I sleepwalk I swear.

Plausible deniability.

But what are you going to do? When you have to work on a Friday night and you double down on Saturday sometimes you bust like I did, sometimes you hit a fucking Black Jack.

The point is, you have to try. Because if I wouldn't have gone for the gold on Saturday I would've sat at work all week unfulfilled by my shitty weekend. Instead I laid on the couch shivering all day Sunday trying to fight my hangover, but I could at least be at ease with the fact that my weekend got an A for effort.

I don't know if I have a problem...maybe. I have no desire to drink now...or Sunday. Tomorrow I have to get to the gym or I'm going to get fat. But I have an inherent need to aspire to greatness at least twice a week. It doesn't have to be some crazy drinking bender or some rave with all the party drugs in the planet, it just has to be SOMETHING. Let's jump out of a fucking plane or climb a mountain. Find a big ass rock and back flip into a river.

I've often commented to people that I'm not much of a writer, just a decent storyteller. And while some people dream up crazy sci fi worlds, I'm incapable of that as well. So it's come down to the fact that if I want to tell stories, I have to live them, and hang out with people that live them as well. So I don't see my lifestyle as some terrible adult to child regression, I'm out there just trying to have a good time and maybe just acquire a few good stories along the way. Some of the best stories about you are the one's that people have to tell you, so I'll justify my Saturday night as a creative experiment, researching a fresh perspective.

And maybe some day, I'll look back on all of this bullshit and think about how self absorbed all of it was, living a nihilistic life in LA's in my 20's. What a fucking Bret Easton Ellis cliche, right? But at least I'll be able to say I gave it a shot, those mortgage rates can wait.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Glowstick War

While some may say I haven't changed much since college, I would argue that I've come along way. I now eat fish, have my own bedroom and can be found most week nights in bed by a reasonable hour.

In fact, if you would have invited me to a Phish show 5 years ago, I probably would have pointed to my pink popped collar and said something along the lines of "The hippies lost faggot, why don't you just conform!" Then I would have stormed off to play some Eddie Money and engage in healthy debate about the true top 5 of Indiana University's sorority system.

And while I still have a penchant for the color pink, I've traded the Sperry's for some Chucks, the polo for some t shirts and I try not to use gay slurs unless I'm extremely intoxicated and I'm positive everyone around me is straight. Furthermore my taste in music has evolved. I've gotten fairly immersed in the whole electronic thing and pretty much abandoned all hip hop. When someone invited me along to a Phish show, my first feeling was general curiosity. I didn't really know what Phish or "Trey" were about. My idea of a jam band was a 17 minute version of "Crazy Game of Poker" or Dave ripping off a 20 minute "Two Step."

The concert was on a Monday night, and I was scheduled to work late so I did what any career-minded individual would do. I secretly left work to buy a ticket and then bitched about having to stay late until I was dismissed. (Don't try this move unless you are hands down the most popular person in the office.)

Armed with a 40 of IPA (not really a 40, probably more like a pint and a half) and one of those single serving wine cups from Shark Tank I set out for the Hollywood Bowl.

The Hollywood Bowl is really a magical place, if you ever visit, and they allow pregaming on site prior to entry. I slammed my white Zinfandel and guzzled down my large ale and started the walk up the large hill in which the large amphitheater is situated.

About a quarter of the way up, I could smell the distinct haze of marijuana. Half way up the hill I was stoned. And by the time I reached my seats I was on another planet.

When the band came up, it was a sense of jubilation. People dancing, smoking, drinking, having genuinely a good time. It's not the feeling of stress you get before going into a electro show, where you have 30 minutes to give yourself an all you can hoover buffet or 'how should I time when I eat this molly bro?' No this was just a diverse crowd that wanted to listen to some music and have an enjoyable Monday night.

The first thing I have to say about the music is that it was damn impressive. I had always thought that these Bonaroo type bands hopped around playing simple chords, singing about how great it is to live in a world with peace and love.

That is not the case.

These guys fucking shred.

By the time the end of the first act came I was about to finish my third spliff. Then these guys rocked a near perfect cover of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and my face melted. Like it was like I was in some drug induced trance where everything in the world was perfect. Ok so I kinda was, but we all know pot doesn't count. It's legal here.

Then they took a set break, not for themselves I'm sure, but for the audience to recover from what had just happened.

During the break you realize that to some people it's not just a concert, it's a culture. Some post dubstep molly popping tween shares his bowl with a hippy that has been following Phish around for 30 years. A guy bumps into someone whilst not looking, both parties spill their beers, instead of a fight ensuing they become best friends while waiting in line to snag another. These are just good people. It's not a culture of rage, it's a celebration of life.

You know that feeling of awesomeness you get when you're at a crowded event and the beach ball is coming right for you and you hit it back in the air? It's fucking great right? Like no way is that beach ball hitting the ground, not on your watch. That's how a Phish show feels...the whole time.

By the time the second act started I realized I was starting to see more and more flashes of neon go past my periphery vision. An old timer behind me kept saying "Wait for it...almost...not yet..." I kept thinking 'wait for what?'

I didn't have to wonder for long. After a particularly saucy guitar solo, they came in the thousands. Glowsticks raining from the heavens. The Glowstick war was underway. An old Phish concert tradition, towards the end of the show concert promoters will dump bags of glowsticks in all sections of the arena, fans will bring in hundreds of their own, and the result is a neon cascade flowing down from the very back row, all the way to the front of the stage.

At times it can be frightening, the sound of a Glowstick launched from W20 gets some speed by the time it whizzes by your ear in G12, but perhaps it's the adrenaline because by the time I was hit several times in the back and neck I had realized that this is what it was all about. Hanging out with 17,000 good people with a good buzz whipping a few plastic toys around like little kids while we listened to a great American band rock the hell out.

It was actually initially reported that there was one casualty during the Glowstick war, but upon further investigation, a glancing blow knocked a girl out of a trance and she sat down for a moment to realize how much fun she was having. That's all.

The Glowstick war was one of those rare instances where there were no losers, as oft is the opposite is ordinarily true about the institution of war. But this one was different. The Glowstick was was won by everyone.

As soon as it had begun it was over, for most another successful Phish show in the books. For me, an experience I would not soon forget. But I have to say, I totally get it now. There wasn't a single face leaving that show that wasn't locked in an ear to ear smile. And while I'm not going to throw away all my material possessions and devote the next 10 years to following around a band, it reiterates to me something that has become increasingly clear the older I become.

You have to do what makes you happy and if that includes riding a beat up minivan cross country to listen to some old guys wail on guitars every night...fuck it, you've got it all figured out.