Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Single Dude Redux

There is an inherent problem with getting older, your actions have increasingly severe repercussions. And with the advent of social media everyone puts the version of their life on display that they think you have come to expect.

For the past few years this blog has been a projection of what I was when I was 22, a time that I equated with pure happiness, and a place I wanted to live mentally and emotionally forever. When I was 22 I was a misogynistic, womanizing, alcoholic, drug addicted frat guy that behaved in ways so reprehensible that it's amazing anyone would associate with me at all. And the worst part about all of it was that I thought it was "cool."

The next five years I would hide behind that monster of a persona to keep this blog up and running as "social satire." But the thing about satire, even of the darkest variety, is that it has to be so deeply planted in absurdity that there is no way to implicate the author in his own despicable content.

For example, the famous piece 'A Modest Proposal' is about the Irish potato famine and poverty in general, the author argues that if the Irish are so hungry, why don't they just eat their children. Now a few extremists might say "ya, fuck the Irish, eat your kids!" But any rational person would see through this immediately and feel the overarching message of social injustice. But the reason Swift is able to get away with this heavy handed  hyperbole is because he was never in fact a cannibal.

And while I never ate Irish children, I did live out the message of this blog for a long time, and it's hard to say "Oh no, I don't really think it's cool to degrade women, minorities and poor people, I just make fun of that shit now." It's disingenuous and furthermore cowardly. So from now on, nothing on this blog will be veiled in metaphor, nothing will be bullshit, it's going to be real. I came to the realization lately that not a whole lot of people actually know who I am. I'm this character that I have created by my own fault, and being fake is no way to go through life.

This doesn't mean that I won't do entries titled "Why You Should Go to Coachella and get Hammered for Three Days." I firmly believe you should and it's not because I think it will improve the music or it will be a good opportunity to go on a mid-spring vacation. I just think renting a house with some buds and keeping the liquor flowing sounds like a good time. You'll probably come back with some stories that you'll never forget…

And I cannot impress upon you the importance of a good story.

Every night when I send the call sheet out to the people on my tv show I tell a story or a fun fact. Obviously the hope is that the chairman of NBC reads one of these emails one day and thinks to himself "holy shit, this guy is hilarious, how do we keep him around."

But the chances of that are probably one in a million. What's more likely though is that everyone that reads these anecdotes will get to know me a little better. When you share your stories with someone, you share part of your soul as it is a little window into your life. And they don't always have to be flattering stories, in fact my favorite stories to tell are about me fucking up, because people love to be reminded that everyone is human once in a while.

I got fired for this blog once in Chicago because I senselessly berated a bucktoothed coworker for yapping about her daughter's head lice. And that will make for a great bit in a screenplay some day, but it also makes me feel like a colossal dick head.

I've grown up in the past 5 years, you just wouldn't know because I'm still making dickjokes and posting instagram photos of empty shot glasses.

No more.

I want this blog to be something I can be proud of, something that you don't have to be ashamed to laugh at. Sure I'm always going to be me, but maybe just me with a few less veiled drug references. I still go out pretty hard on the weekends, still pull all nighters in Vegas from time to time but there's a happy medium between having fun and being an asshole, that's the space I'm going to try to live. There is plenty of negativity in the world without me adding to it, so without further ado, welcome to the new SingleDudeinLA.


I still remember the summer after I graduated college like it was yesterday. I'm not sure if I've ever told this story before, so here it goes... I, like countless others, had failed to acquire the $65,000 starting salary in corporate America that had been promised to me by my school for 4 years, and in fact my career prospects looked pretty bleak in general. I had one job offer to sell Easy Mac in Fairfield, IL. Fairfield is a one stoplight town 2 hours from St. Louis, and one hour from Effingham (and as any Indy person that has ever driven to St. Louis can tell you GREAT Nike outlet in Effingham) Needless to say, I turned down the offer and decided to spend my summer drinking in Bloomington...or so I thought.

As everyone slowly moved away to begin their new lives, I began sleeping until about noon or whenever Big Red would open. I would go to Target and buy super soakers, the liquor store and buy beer and sit patiently on the porch waiting for summer school roommates to come home and play. After the first 6 weeks of summer I was left utterly alone, with zero life direction. So when Paul Bird swung into town one night, bought me a flatline and dared me to drive to New York with him, I did.

I had never in my life been to New York City, but my first taste of it was living with a cocaine dealer in a Sigma Pi live out on the Hofstra campus in West Hempstead, Long Island. Of course we made the most of it, I had an ex-girlfriend living close by and a bunch of recently graduated friends with big homes in Manhasset and not a lot else going on. We would spend our days at the beach in Port Washington and take the LIRR into Penn Station every night and get into trouble in Manhattan, I never wanted it to end.

Of course that is not a sustainable lifestyle when you're broke and unemployed, so I booked a one way flight back to Indianapolis out of Westchester and prepared for my impending doom. By some miracle, when I landed penniless in Indianapolis, I saw a friendly face, who was in fact heading back to Bloomington...a place where I still had a in lieu of calling my mother and dealing with the beginning of life in my parents' basement, I ran away to college one more time...a permanent pausing mechanism on reality.

The next day however, my whole life changed. My buddy Jack, whom I had been living with for roughly the past 4 years needed a wing man to drive to LA with. Being a safety issue, his parents agreed to finance the trip and stake us for a bit while we looked for jobs and a place for him to live.

It was the roadtrip of a lifetime. We drove from Chicago to Lincoln, which during the College World Series, is one of the biggest party towns in the country. The Brothers Bar in Lincoln sold $5 64 ounce buckets of screwdriver. Needless to say, Cornhusker fan for life. Next we drove from Lincoln to Aspen where my trusty friend Jake was vacationing and so of course we stormed Belly Up/Eric's/Caribou Club and had arguably the best night of the summer. From Aspen we traveled west toward Vegas, somewhere around Utah Michael Jackson died, and we miracuously made it into Los Angeles 3 days later with some slight winnings.

It was my second time in LA, I had previously come out for a 'Networking trip.' During the trip we had meetings at UTA, William Morris, Endeavor, Fox, HBO, Paramount, 42 West, 2929, Benderspink and they all said roughly the same thing. When you get here, you'll get a job in the mailroom at CAA and from there you'll figure everything out. My immediate thought was, I'll never make it in LA because people that work in agencies wear suits, even in the summer and I am a heavy sweater.

So with that my LA dream was basically dead. At this point, it still hadn't occurred to me that it was possible to make a living as a writer. My dream was to be a development exec at a big production company, be the guy to green light $2 million dollar coming of age indies. But first thing's first, find a job, find a place to live.

Actually, first thing's first...find a place to crash tonight and go get drunk. We threw our bags at my friend Michael's house and marched directly to Happy Endings where we spent all of our Vegas winnings in that stupid crane game trying to catch a live lobster.

The rest of the summer was more of the same, Jack would interview for jobs, I would walk around Hollywood taking it all in. We had no money, nowhere to live, every day it was my job to try to acquire us housing for the night. We stayed at various fraternities at both USC and UCLA. We stayed with a then struggling actor who now appears on the Lindsay Lohan fuck list. We stayed on the floor of any IU grad we met, we slept in an old Acura RL, $40 hotel rooms, we slept on the beach.

But despite being broke and unemployed, we managed to take LA for all it was worth. We squeezed in a 3 day trip to Newport for Fourth of July, we did a birthday party in Vegas, we partied in the hills, we tricked film financing companies to give us job interviews...

But then it was over. One day, Jack signed a lease on an apartment and got a job at UTA and even though I had undergone a summer's worth of LA hazing, I would not be getting initiated. It was time to go home, for real this time.

The saddest day of my life was when I got on board that airplane at LAX heading back to Indianapolis, it was like the end of a great dream, that you know you will never have back. After you wake up, you can try to go back to sleep and recapture it, but it's gone. I knew I would likely never have the balls to come back, life gets in the way of dreams sometimes, and it will always be something I talked about, but never did...get back to LA.

But then after two years of trying to rebuild my collegiate utopia in Chicago, a miracle happened. A 7 year old girl at Vernon Hills Elementary School got headlice. And her mom told fucking everyone about it at work, and I took a break from talking about how many shots I took on a Wednesday night at Kincade's to bitch and moan about how repulsive I found this entire family...and I got fired for it, which will likely go down as the greatest thing that ever happened to me.

Because in order for me to get staffed, in order for me to sell my own show, in order for me to ever win an award for writing, I had to be fired from CDW for trashing a coworker about her hygiene.

And maybe none of that will ever happen, but I made it back, and to me that was always going to be the ultimate longshot.

So I'm here now...things are going pretty well so far, and I'm never leaving again. And sure, it kicks ass to live in Venice now, stroll Abbot Kinney on the weekends, occasionally splurge on a $8 coffee from Intelligentsia. But every now and then, I close my eyes and remember sleeping on Venice Beach, looking at the stars in the August of 2011 wondering when the dream would end.

Well it hasn't yet and I hope it never does.

Saturday, March 1, 2014


The film Goodfellas opens with one of the more memorable movie quotes ever. "For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster."

If there is ever a biopic about me, it will probably start somewhere along the lines of "For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to fit in."

I figured I would take a break from my usual over the top schtick today to write something that isn't layered in various levels of bullshit and try to prove to you all that I do indeed have a soul. I had something great cued up called, 21st Century Post-Broism, but hey, there's always next week. I figured today would be a great day to discuss my love affair with writing.

When I was young, I was a pathological liar. I would just make things up, sometimes it was to enhance my image, make me appear more desirable to the cool kids. But other times I just did it because, I don't know boredom? I've always had a penchant for making up stories. Some of them were outrageous and obviously fake, but others became so deeply routed in my psyche I'm not even sure if they are true or not.

Case in point. I don't know if I am really allergic to chocolate or not. If you have ever offered me chocolate in the past 20 years, I have probably aggressively denied it and then dazzled you with tales about what would happen to me if I had even one bite. (My eyeballs will explode, I will projectile vomit blood ON YOUR FACE and then you will turn into a vampire) The truth is, when I was 3 years old (my dad forged my birth certificate so I could start soccer a year early, what a hero) after our first game (I had 1 goal and an assist) the team mom gave everyone on the team, including me, a quarter. I mobbed to the concession stand with the older, cooler 4 and 5 year olds. All of them got a bag of M&Ms. On the way home in the car, I ate like half the bag and as soon as I got home I puked and got an itchy rash on my chest.

That's it. I haven't had chocolate in 24 years, and I likely won't ever again. I convinced myself and the world that I was allergic. There are a trillion other things that could have caused that nausea, maybe I was just sick...I hear it's something that happens to 3 year olds quite often, but chocolate took the fall and I have rolled with that story ever since.

So you can see that from a very young age, I started using false realities as a coping mechanism and not much has changed since.

When I started school I was one of the smart kids that got straight A's in elementary school and I excelled athletically, but in a series of poor decisions I decided that wasn't enough. I wanted to be one of the cool kids, so I started goofing off, being obnoxious and getting into trouble, because that's what was en vogue at Amy Beverland in the early 90's. Finding myself increasingly in trouble, I had to find a way to get out of it. My oral pleas were not sufficient, but somewhere along the line I started writing elaborate apology letters to people I had wronged and somehow it worked.

Seeing that my writing prowess could get me what I wanted, I began writing my parents these elaborate proposals whenever I wanted a new video game, hamster, Pokemon cards, to go to Disney World. It wouldn't always work, but let's just say that if my conversion rate was a baseball player's batting average, I would be first ballot hall of fame.

As I grew older and entered the horrible ether of middle school, I started writing short stories on Saturday nights while waiting for the phone to ring (which it rarely did) I would create these characters that I perceived to be a perfect version of myself. I would always give this character a happy ending, I realized that while writing, I could control all of the elements of a fictitious universe, elements that I might not be able to manipulate in reality.

I started to really get a knack for banging away at the keyboard. In 8th grade I started a gossip blog about the goings on of the 50 person class of 2001. Looking back it was so stupid, I remember a poll I posted, "Who in our class has the best butt?" There was only 1 option, because there was a clear runaway victor at the time, but that poll still posted like 300 responses. I remember coming home from school one day and trying to layer at HTML password protection layer on the site because there were rumors that some parents had discovered the blog. God forbid they find out who was fingering who in the woods after the Mardi Gras dance.

Eventually I shut that down but rebranded a new site that became like a Bar Stool Sports for Indianapolis high school CYO basketball. (CYO basketball was kind of like beer league hockey, you play semi-organized rec ball for your middle school, while you are in high school) This thing was the shit though. It had standings, stats, player of the week, a smack board...I was realy getting a knack for this whole writing thing.

At this point, I was in high school and I was doing Improv team at which I was winning awards every week, I was taking acting classes and performing in plays. My comp teacher was starting to take an extreme interest in some of my short stories and begging me to get involved with the school paper and then...


The theater kids are weird. The improv kids don't get to drink in the fancy Carmel basements with the cheerleaders. So what did I do? I threw it all away to play football, lacrosse and get drunk with the John Tuckers of the world. A world that I was tolerated in, but never really truly accepted.

It was just the next in a series of decisions I would make to try to be cool. Looking back now its laughable, I became a 3rd stringer on the football team, but imagine what Groundlings level I would be if i had 10 years of improv under my belt.

I graduated high school with a degree in being a fraud and made my next ridiculous decision. During my campus visit at IU I made a snap decision to change my major from Telecom (something I was interested in, something I would love to do for a living) to Business (because Kelley is prestigious and if you aren't in Kelley you are inferior to everyone. This major will make me rich and cool)

As you all know, college was awesome for me...I finally figured out what it was like to be on top of the world. A lifetime of insecurity washed away instantly the first time I had a party at my senior live out house. I was finally that guy, and from September 2008 to May 2009 I had the greatest life in the world. But unfortunately there is no real world equivalency of being the cool frat guy Senior in life. So I took my shiny business degree and got some shitty telemarketing job in Chicago so I could try to recreate my Bloomington life in a major midwestern city.

I was beyond miserable. I lived with 2 of my best friends but we were out of control. We were only happy when getting so beyond fucked up that I will likely never recover from those 2 years. And sure there were moments during the 5 night a week partying in Lincoln Park that it felt like life was awesome, nothing had changed, but it was all an illusion. People started dropping off one by one and pretty soon I had nothing.

The one solace I had in Chicago was my old blog. I had started a new one in Italy, during my semester abroad. With limited connection to the outside world I had started writing again. I tried to write a novel, and I started Frat Italy to keep my friends back home in the loop during my travels.
It had dropped off my Senior year because I didn't even have a laptop that year, let alone the sobriety required to write. But I rebooted Frat Italy as SingleDudeinChicago as some sort of creative outlet.

Back then it was much more "I just did COKE til 6 in the morning and only came to work so I could look at coworker Jen's tits! BLAAAAAH I'M SO AWESOME!" I was not awesome. But coworker Jen did have nice breasts. It was the same format as it is now, kind of a vulgar rallying call to live your life to the fullest, seize the day, ask questions later type of thing, but it was more mean spirited and I would ALWAYS do it at work.

For the first 2 years, I think my coworkers just assumed I was writing detailed emails to clients, but somehow word got around to the office that I had this ridiculous blog that also acted as a burn book for my coworkers, within a week my local hits were MUCH higher than normal, I wrote some Little 5 post that went viral and 3 days later I was sitting down with HR.

It did not go well.

So I'm 24 without any discernible skills and I have just been fired for writing this horrendous blog about my coworkers and my hedonistic lifestyle. What now?

Move to LA and keep the blog going? Sounds reasonable.

The sweet irony is, the only thing I have ever loved is writing. I absolutely fucking love it. The fact that there is a chance that some day I might get paid to do it blows my mind. I would pay to be able to do what I am doing right now. I sometimes have to pinch myself to know that it's real.

See where I come from people don't get paid to write. You go to college then get some sort of private sector businessy job. Selling insurance, doing accounting work, getting married and buying a house in the northern portion of Carmel. That always sounded so fucking horrible to me, and for the first time in my life, I took a risk. I came to LA with basically nothing, and I still have basically nothing, but I have a dream and a path. That path is very long, but I'm on it and some day I'll get there.

For the first time in my life, I'm not trying to be cool anymore. This is me. I like musicals and indie film and writing coming of age dramadies. I like red meat and gluten and I think that people that don't are stupid.

I am so uncool in LA it's ridiculous. There are girls that I would love to ask out, but I can't because of my current lot in life, there are social gatherings that I can't go to because of my current lack of clout in my industry. And that's fine. I'm so sick of trying to be cool, to fit in. For the first time in forever (I couldn't help myself) I'm free of expectation or requirement. There are things I could do in LA that would elevate me I'm sure, make more money, but it wouldn't get me any closer to being someone who just creates worlds all day with their words.

And sure it's a daunting path but sometimes I feel like I have already won, see in a few seconds I'm going to press publish. I'll then pop this on Facebook and hopefully someone will read this thing that I have written, which in my mind, makes me a writer.

It's little things like that.

That gives me this feeling beyond happiness, a comforting feeling of content. But obviously I'm not going to stop, I never will. I'm always going to write shit whether it be for myself, for others, for money, whatever. The journey is just beginning and I'm so glad that I have discovered something that I truly love to do.