Thursday, July 17, 2014

Ran Away to the Top of the World Today

Doesn't that kind of look like where The Grinch lived?
In a week, I am climbing the highest summit in North America. It is a day trip consisting of 16 hours hiking 22 miles. I have decided to break down this story by the 22 miles it will take me to conquer this mountain, each representing a reason why I should fail (or succeed)

Mile 1. I have limited experience with this kind of thing. Most hikes I go on are just an excuse to hang out with beautiful women for a couple hours and snap some selfies before ultimately landing at bottomless brunch.

Mile 2. Mt. Whitney is a rather straight forward climb. 11 miles one way, with an average elevation gain of 500 feet per mile, but there are a few sections where some canyoning or mountaineering experience could be helpful. I once climbed a big rock at Joshua Tree, but it was only to get a better vantage point of the sunset. Oh, and I was totally bombed.

Mile 3. I agreed to this months ago when I was absolutely sinned. In the past, I would have figured out a way to weasel myself out of this. But for some strange reason that is not apparent to me, I convinced myself that I can do this, it won't be that big of a deal. Sure the longest hike that I've gone on is 10 miles...but what's another 12?

Mile 4. Oh, so apparently there is this thing called elevation sickness. I live at sea level on the beach. Whitney veterans suggest doing a short training hike at elevation to get yourself acclimated, maybe I could do that this weekend but...

Mile 5. I'm going to Vegas this weekend. And not just your typical do a bunch of drugs and spend $1200 to see Calvin Harris at Hakkassan only to get a disappointing handjob from a married woman on a #girlstrip. I'm going for 24 hours only to a Bachelor Party with a bunch of college and pro football players. While I can't disclose the goings on of last trip, I can verify that I spent 10 hours on a bus back to LA wedged between two fetishist porn stars. I'm pretty sure they both convinced me that getting jacked off with feet would be worth their $250 rate. Actually sorry. They charged $250 per foot, but if you wanted one of EACH of their feet, it was $600. Or they can make a video of them giving some other guy a footjob and send it to you for $100. What a deal.

HALFWAY TO THE TOP. Smoke a cigarette and shotgun a beer!

Mile 6. Concerning Vegas, I will be flying back this year (on Spirit, arguably worse that then bus) I will have most of Sunday, and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday to rehydrate. I will start my hike at 3 o clock in the morning Thursday, and hope to be up the mountain before it really gets hot, but something tells me I am not adequately planning for the amount of water I will need. Or the containers to carry said water...or any equipment for that matter...

Mile 7. I'll just Google it an find out what I need! It can't be that hard right? I'll go get it tonight! Oh no wait, tonight is a pier concert, I will be blacking out and NOT doing a bunch of research at REI.

Mile 8. Ok, if I can't make it to REI tonight or this weekend because of Vegas...or Monday because I'll still be too hungover. There is always Tuesday right? Yes, Tuesday! This is sucha  perfect microcosm of my life, I think California is trying to suspend my license bc of an unpaid seatbelt ticket, I might be getting audited, but both of these letters demanded action in August. It's July. PLENTY of time to procrastinate.

Starting to get pretty tired, but just think about all the instagram likes I'll get when I take a #SELFIE standing on top of North America. GAH! I better start thinking of my witty caption now.

Mile 9. What about diet? I go to Taco Bell about 12 times a week and eat whatever they are pushing. Last month that was breakfast and now it's the old QUESARITO. Let's do a quick Yelpish review shall we? The quesarito did NOT disappoint, all the filling qualities of a burrito, but with the cheesy goodness of a quesadilla, and coming in at a very reasonable 2500 calories, it felt like at least 3k! Minus a star bc the drive thru attendant only gave me 4 fire sauces. I said a FUCKTON. If ton is 2000, then the prefix of FUCK should indicate at least double that.

Mile 10. So I have no equipment, I don't know what to eat, I'm really not even in that good of shape, oh and my "running shoes" are now pink from the Color Run and Mildewy from Cliff Diving. I should probably get a new pair in advance of this undertaking, but isn't that what causes marathon runners to get blisters and die? Never run in new shoes. It's the one thing I remember from a website I went to for 5 minutes once when trying to judge the viability of me doing a half marathon.

Mile 11. The last mile is always the hardest, but wait. What if I have to shit during this mile. I NOTABLY poo at least 2 floors away from my office, preferably in a different building. I have the worst poo anxiety in the world. Girlfriends will never see me go to the bathroom, if my roommates are home, I will pretend I'm taking a shower. You're saying hikers just wander off the trail and squat? No. Just no.

Holy shit. I made it. I'm at the summit. I DID IT. I may be vomiting my guts out and bleeding from several orifi ORIFI? Plural of orifice? LET'S ROLL WITH IT. If my heart gives out from years of stimulant abuse, history will remember me kindly. HE DIED DOING SOMETHING HE LOVED. WHAT AN INSPIRATION. You know what? Fuck all the white noise. This mountain ain't shit. I can do this.

Mile 12. Some people don't believe in dinosaurs. It's true! Like they saw Jurassic Park and thought...ehhhh Bullshit! Some people don't believe in God. Apparently reading a story about turning water into wine and thinking, TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE. You know what I don't believe in? Altitude sickness. Altitude sickness is for pathetic little bitches with weak immune systems. Probably gluten free people with fake celiacs disease. Besides. I went skiing in park city this year and totally made it down a double black.

Mile 13. Did I mention I ran a sprint triathlon a month ago? Sure I had to backstroke the swim the entire time for fear of otherwise drowning, but I FUCKING DID IT. I feel roughly the same way about walking. The Indians walked the trail of tears, and I know at least some of them survived, because APPARENTLY every one of them lives in LA and takes my writing gigs. FUCK the Indians, Dan Snyder can keep the Redskins name.

Mile 14. Ok, that was a little crass. I have nothing against Native Americans, just white kids who have a zany grandparent that fucked an Iriqouis for sport once and now have the requisite 10% blood that activates writer's guild affirmative action. But honestly, old people climb this mountain all the time. I think merely by being 27 I will be able to do it, regardless of the fact that my diet consists largely of Sriracha covered Domino's.

Mile 15. Concerning the Vegas trip directly before the scaling of the mountain...many of you probably rightly assume that I am an idiot, and you would be correct. However, I am also likely smarter than you (the two are not mutually exclusive) I went out until 3 in the morning the night before the LSAT, never took a prep course and still got like a 163. (Smartish!) But, I also had a warrant out for my arrest at the time, and I couldn't think of a single professor that knew me well enough to write me a solid rec. So I took my Kelley degree to Chicago and developed a "party" habit (idiot)

Mile 16. It seems several people die each year scaling Mt. Whitney unprepared, accidents, dehydration and BEARS. But most people don't die. As someone who has bum rushed many a concert gate, you learn quickly that the only thing that matters is not being the slowest. I'm sure this rings true with the Pamplona running of the bulls as well. As long as you aren't the WORST at something, you probably won't die. Thus when a black bear starts chasing my group, I will be safe because the bear will settle for the weakling of the group. Humans are not the only lazy animals.

Mile 17. Something that everyone bitches about at Mt. Whitney is the wildly changing weather. I've always found inclement weather very unimpressive. There was a blizzard un Chicago a few years back, it was snowing at a rate of like 9 inches an hour and there was somehow thunder and lightning and hail involved as well. I had work cancelled the next day, so I walked a mile to a bar. Not wanting to risk smelly feet in case some girl wanted to bang, I wore sandals. Alas my roommates and I were the only people there, but still watching The Weather Channel at Kincades while taking Fireball shots is way better than laying on a couch.

Mile 18. You may remember a story in which I gave myself alcohol poisoning on my friend Ryan's 21st birthday and passed out behind a dumpster in Florence, only to wake up in an ambulance and attack my rescuers. I'm pretty stories things like that render me death proof.

Mile 19. Almost done. Man my feet are starting to hurt, but you know what? How hard can climbing DOWN a mountain be. Don't you just kind of fall forward and let gravity handle it? Isn't that what the movie 'Gravity' was all about? No? Regardless...Sandra Bullock is 49 years old, and I would STILL do unspeakable things to those A cups.

Mile 20. I've always thought that if everything goes to shit, I can join the military and have one last chance at being a productive member of society. Back in the days of the Roman Emperor, their military would be expected to march 20 miles in a day. And they were probably all like 4 foot 8 and had sex with little boys. I would like to think my athleticism is AT LEAST on par with a 4 foot 8 man who has sex with little boys.

Mile 21 Women can do it. And I am a firm believer in that a woman can do anything as well or better than a man. I am ALSO a huge fan of the Transitive property. If A=B and B=C A=C. I can climb this bitch.

Mile 22 I DID IT! Let's be honest. I'm doing this solely so I can tell people I did it. That's really the only reason I do anything. I want to appear more impressive with my stories of travel and physical accomplishments. I want to trick people into thinking I'm more interesting than I really am. It is the same reason I read dozens of books a year, it is the same reason I work out, surf. I do epic shit so people will see it on Facebook and be like man Dave is so fucking cool. And I'll be dragging on this last mile...but your approval will keep me going. I can't imagine a worse shame than failing this goal and having to tell every hiker the rest of my life that I tried climbing Mt. Whitney once and fucked it up. No, I'll crawl, or ride someone's back to the top, and then roll down on those sketchers heely shoes, and next time I'm at a bar I may not have "a job' perse or a credit score over 500, but I'll have a fucking story, and stories are what it's all about. It's why I do everything. So I can have something to fill the awkward silence with when I'm on a date, or something to write about when I hit a lull. I'm going to climb this fucking mountain next Thursday, get back to LA Friday, tell some chick at Townhouse all about it, and pull an away game. Oh and ya...being one with nature. That too I guess.

Monday, July 14, 2014

An Open Letter to the CIty of Santa Monica

Hello there! My name is Dave and I am a Santa Monica enthusiast. I appreciate the majority of your city, its wealth and most of what it has come to stand for. However, I have a slight bone to pick when it comes to a tradition I hold very close to my heart: The Twilight Concert Series at the Pier.
In January the city council voted on measures to "scale back" the TCS (twilight concert series) largely as a reactionary measure to last year's unprecedented crowd of 35,000 at the Jimmy Cliff concert. And while I appreciate your enthusiasm for safety, I am here to tell you, your efforts are misguided.

See I am part of Los Angeles' "new" west side. I am young, white, work in entertainment, live with young, white roommates and we spend most of our money on activities of leisure. Many would claim I am everything wrong with the present state of Venice. But this is not a think piece on the inevitability of gentrification, it is about the concerts.

In your statement, you noted that the Santa Monica City Council unanimously voted to scale back the event...I believe the phrase was "right size" something that had spiraled into something of an uncontrollable beast. The measures you are taking to accomplish this goal are to book more obscure, emerging talent and remove the giant video board on the sand. Unfortunately, that action makes two false assumptions.

1. I am less likely to picnic on the beach if I have not heard of a band.

2. I am less likely to picnic on the beach if I have trouble seeing (or hearing) said band.

The truth of the matter is, I couldn't care less what is happening on the stage. I am there purely to get fucked up with my attractive friends on the beach, in an atmosphere of other attractive people getting fucked up on aforementioned beach. To be honest, I think in my three years of enjoying pier concerts, I have known the name of the band playing once or twice and have listened to maybe four total songs. Because as cool as it is to see a band play for free outdoors in the summer, it's much cooler do have an elaborate set up of sandwiches and snack foods purchased from Whole Foods and a near endless supply of red wine from Trader Joe's whilst music plays as ambience in the background. If a man was on stage having his prostate examined, instead of Haim singing "The Wire" I would still go. And I do not think I am alone on this.

Jimmy Cliff is the shit. He's an absolute legend. But I theorize his fame was only partly responsible for the record breaking crowd that accompanied. In September of 2013 peak "white people" was happening west of Lincoln in Los Angeles. The old guard has fallen, doo rags have been traded in for bro tanks and guns for rolled up twenties. If there is anything a 20something year old WASP wants to do on a Thursday night in the middle of summer, it is ride their expensive ass bike to a pier with a backpack full of potato chips and a wine bottle on the water bottle holder. Sure they will be hungover tomorrow, but it will be worth it. In fact, if things escalate, they might even go to Big Dean's and find a similarly attractive member of the opposite (or same!) gender and have some casual sex. Jimmy Cliff was the last concert of the summer last year. One last chance to black out and risk a bicycling while intoxicated misdemeanor on a Thursday night. It was an event not to be missed.

This year the "unknown bands" feature indie breakout Cults, Youtube sensation OK Go, an Arabian EDM artist and a British Rock band from the 60's that had a number 1 hit. Honestly it feels as if KCRW is trolling the Santa Monica city council, or they just give zero fucks. If Santa Monica feared "riot like crowds" at the Jimmy Cliff show, wait until CAA sends several busses full of assistants to the beach to see "those guys that did the treadmill video."

It is now 2014 and Venice is that much more gentrified, arguably the coolest place in the city to live is the Ocean Park district of Santa Monica, just off Main Street and the poshest bar west of the 405 is within walking distance of the pier. My prediction? There will be some bike accidents this summer. Alcohol will be involved.

People go to the pier to drink on the beach and watch the sunset, plan their weekends and celebrate life. The music is largely irrelevant. So although I really don't think it matters what you do to encourage small crowds, I do have some suggestions that will be slightly more effective in creating a safer environment than removing a video board.

1. Replace the parking lots with lava.
This may sound drastic but hear me out. If no one can drive to the beach, that will limit the accessibility of the concerts to those who can walk, bike or afford to uber to the show. It will also completely eliminate drunk driving as a byproduct of the event. I realize this is not a sound business decision, as it leads to a loss of revenue. However, I have a two fold plan to subsidize that loss. We will build a MASSIVE WALL on Lincoln Boulevard. To enter the AWOL district will require a resident's pass or a toll of 10 dollars. This is a reasonable fee to charge someone that would offer their patronage to our restaurants, theaters and other areas of recreation. Also, weekend beach parking will be raised to $100 per car.

2. Allow Dogs.
$100 per car to park at the beach is absurd! How the hell do you justify that?!? Easy! First of all, I find it absurd to live in a coastal city and not live biking distance to the beach. However, if I must justify this, I'll do it with my new doggie beach! This is like a three pronged solution. See the current state of the beach just north of the pier is an absolute travesty. The clientele is nearly all of the "men who wear shirts while they swim" variety. I would like to eradicate this completely. And since it would be poor form to plant a sign that says "Hey fat asses, go to Will Rodgers #proana," I will build my dog beach there. Everyone loves dogs right? And it's a speciestest policy to not allow non humans on the beach ANYWHERE. (I think the closest dog beach is in Manhattan somewhere) This doggie beach will create a secondary scene on Thursday nights NORTH of the pier. Dog owners can listen to the music and drink Four Lokos whilst they flirt with other dog owners. Furthermore, someone is going to have to shovel all that dog shit. Thus my dog beach will create jobs. The homeless of the west side aren't unskilled, they're just unmotivated. Does anything say second chance more than an opportunity to be a Doggie Beach Attendant in Santa Monica? I think not. Don't thank me people, I'm just a humanitarian getting people off the streets.

3. Light the bike path.
Remember the cool parent in high school that was like "well, the kids are going to drink, they might as well do it in my basement so at least I know they're being responsible." The Santa Monica Police need to adopt a similarly laissez faire attitude about biking intoxicated. There is absolutely no punishment that could possibly dissuade me from riding my bike drunk. I firmly believe that I could outrun any police officer on a bike and lose him down an alley, even after two magnums of wine. But not everyone is as skilled a cyclist as me, and as long as there is no hard ban on bringing toddlers to the beach, one of them will inevitably wander onto the path causing some sort of tragedy. And whilst double vision is hardly ideal cycling conditions, double vision with light is preferable to double vision and absolute darkness. See at 10 o clock it's pretty dark, this is when the pier concert ends. But when I stumble out of Big Dean's at one in the morning, it is the fucking absence of light. I have a bike light and so do most people, but a streetlamp lighting the path every 100 feet certainly wouldn't hurt. Due to the new lava parking lot, bicycles will be the primary mode of transportation, so let's take care of them shall we?

Dog park, lava parking, path lights and a Great Wall. These are my modest requests in ensuring that everyone has an excellent, safe summer, full of cheap wine and good vibes. Oh and if you can get Haim to come play the pier again that would be cool too. They can fill in for Yuna or the prostate exam guy, though I was somewhat looking forward to the latter. AWOL 4 life, Silverlake sucks.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Film Crew Stereotypes: Costumes

So you've decided your significant other sucks/you just found out there is a warrant out for your arrest in your current state/you're sick of the cold and need a change, GREAT NEWS! I am here to guide you to a successful career in the entertainment industry right here in sunny Los Angeles! But before you fire all your old friends and move out here, you might want to have some semblance of an idea of what you want to do. That is where I come in. In several years of production I have built up a lifetime of stereotypes about every department, and now I'm going to vomit them all out for you and you can decide where you think you will best fit.

I had originally planned on doing this all in one post,  but I tend to lose you guys after about 500 words, so I'll be doing one department at a time until I'm done, or lose interest.

Take the plunge with me and let's get you into a lifetime of unions, craft service and bitterness! First department up COSTUMES.

Oh costumes, I love/hate you so much. Let's just point out the obvious right away. Costumes is the only department that is dominated by women, and as such, will likely provide you the most temptation for an interoffice romance. The costume PA is almost always a smoke show. You can also hope that at least one of the set costumers or costume buyer will be equally gorgeous, but before I get ahead of myself let's breakdown the department.

Who are they?

The costume department are a set of FIDM dropouts that outfit the actors in their character wardrobe. The department is composed of the following.

Costume Designer - Department head, makes all creative decisions for wardrobe in conjunction with the showrunner, director and line producer. Fits all the actors, is usually a pretty cool chick in her early 40's. Almost always has a secret stash of booze in the cooler in her mini-fridge. Will hook you up with swag at the end of the season if she likes you.

Costume Supervisor- The costume designer handles the creative aspects of the department, the supervisor deals with the practical elements. Oh the designer likes this cute top from J Crew? Well that scene shoots tomorrow, and if we overnight it from the website, it won't make it here before noon. We need it in a small, there is one in Beverly Hills, but we need one for the stand-in or stunt double too. There is another one is in Pasadena, those cities are 2 hours apart in LA traffic. See how this job is kind of annoying? The costume supervisor is either someone that is pretty chill and just kept getting promoted, or they are SUPER bitter that they aren't a designer and come off like Cindarella's evil stepmother. There also are some male costume supervisors. This may strike you as strange, and you would likely assume that they are all gay or like streetware dudes. Not always the case, in fact my favorite game to play with the guys in the costume department is GAY or NOT GAY. Just like I used to play shaved/unshaved and spits/swallows with chicks. (It doesn't matter, I'm just curious, I HAVE TO KNOW) There used to be signs, a wedding ring meant straight, but that's not necessarily true anymore. There are sneaky gays and sneaky straights all over LA. Sometimes dudes just get stuck in the costume department because clothing racks are heavy and they were standing closest when costumes needed a PA.

Set Costumer- So this is the person that hangs out in the trailer, outfits extras with random shit and readjusts actors collars and what not in between takes. If you have ever dressed yourself you are qualified to be a set costumer, and congratulations, you make about $2500 a week to smoke cigarettes and shoot the shit with actors. I can't be too bitter though, because costumers have to do like a 2 year pledgeship of PA'ing and then 2 more years in a costume rental house just to get into the union. For this reason they like to go to happy hour and get wrecked. I endorse this behavior.

Costume Buyer- So remember how the supervisor found those two tops in Beverly Hills and Pasadena? Well she doesn't actually leave the office to get them, she has to deal with budgets and paperwork, she sends the buyer. The costume buyer literally shops for a living, she buys hundreds of thousands of dollars of shit all over LA, lugs it around in her car and brings it to set. But the costume buyer also has miserable expense reports and even worse. Returns. I have had to do some horrible shit in my life, but nothing is worse than a wardrobe return. It is not uncommon to buy 10 different outfit options from a store and then return 9 1/2. Stores do not like this practice, even less because lots of low budget things will use a costume once and still try to return it, for this reason any time someone from the costume department returns something they have to have an elaborate story for why they are returning it, if your plan is foiled...try the next Nordstrom. I was a costume PA for one day. I was denied at Target, I called the designer and said lying was against my faith and I quit. I still have nightmares.

Costume PA- The costume PA does all the horrible shit a buyer does, except she gets paid 10 dollars an hour instead of 32. She spends her days returning stuff to Target and inventorying clothing racks in dark rooms. I imagine this is not what they promised you in film school. But because the costume PA hates her job she is very likely to engage you on gchat and talk about where you two should go out drinking Saturday night.

What are they like?
Well for the most part, costumers have an easy gig and make a fortune. Like many of the departments, once you get past PA'ing and get into the union, you have it made. Your typical costume department person lives in Los Feliz and is on the cooler end of hipster. Lots of hats, very skinny jeans, I mean since they work in wardrobe they feel the need to make a statement with almost every outfit. They are more likely to take trips to the Far East and Africa as opposed to your bro ragers in Ibiza, more a Burning Man than Coachella crowd, and there will be tattoos. OH THERE WILL BE TATTOOS. Costume girls always infuriate me with their leather boots and pink hair, until they have an IPA with me and tell me why they believe there is merit in open relationships, then I give them a bit of a free pass.

Again, one or two PA's will make $700 a week plus mileage. Usually costume PA's drive a fuck ton. So if you don't mind spending 3-4 hours in your car a day, this could be a career for you. I would say that it's not irrational to expect to clear $850 a week as a costume PA. Once you join 705 though? It's a done're easily making six figures if you work consistently, yet the costume crew will still bitch that hair and make-up make more. Designers can be repped by top level agencies and I would imagine that top designers in film and on network shows could conceivably clear a million a year, especially if they do some commercials on the side.

How do I get there?
Oh for fuck's sake do not go to FIDM. Go to UCLA or something. A lot of kids go to little liberal arts colleges and then come out to LA and start in the independent film world, or they do a friend's short or some local rapper's music video. Eventually you will get linked up with a designer or supervisor and they will hire you to PA on a show with them. From there it's a war of attrition, and fortunately the cool scene for hipsters is around Echo Park where you can live basically for free. You can always just fuck a producer and he can pay the penalty to buy you straight into the union. You meet a cute 25 year old set costumer? She TOTALLY fucked someone.

I mean if you're a woman and you like clothes, or you just really want to be around entertainment without being in production, writing or art this is not a terrible place to land. Again, often the most attractive department, the hottest girl on your show will almost always be a costume PA, writer's assistant or producer's assistant. If you think wardrobe is stupid and you hate clothes, still a good idea to be friends with these chicks (and or straight/gay men) they're cool, down to earth and can gibe you free shit. Just ignore their fake gluten allergies, I's annoying.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Live the Fourth

Pictured: Not Me
When I was in high school, the seniors went on a three day retreat to find themselves and bond with classmates through God, or something to that relative effect. In practice it was an excuse to miss a few days of class and learn about everyone's secrets (a laundry list of 7th Heaven approved teen problems: I drink, I smoke pot sometimes, my girlfriend cheated on me, sometimes I get stressed and cut god, do you remember the "cutter" episode of 7th Heaven? That was high art right there.)

College kids would come back to lead little groups, share their experiences, and then play a pop song that we were supposed to listen to and have quiet reflection. The leaders kept everyone awake 20 hours a day, until there was some sort of emotional break through and at the end everyone held hands and sang Koombaya.

I remember having two thoughts during the experience.

1. Man, nothing that strange has ever happened to me. What am I going to talk about when it's my turn? I don't have a weird drug addiction, both my parents are still alive and I have not had several spats with Hepatitis C.

2. How legendary would it be to hook up with a chick during this retreat?

At the closing ceremony, everyone cries and hugs and OHMYGOD we're all best friends now.

We had single handedly defeated the act of bullying and the institution of cliques. GO US! The mantra of the retreat is "Live the fourth." Which means, live every day for the rest of your life as if it is the fourth day of retreat. Never forget all the love and happiness that was present and treat everyone the way you would want to be treated. Tis a noble message indeed that everyone holds onto for like two weeks and then they go about living their lives.

I have a different idea.

I have never met someone that didn't love the Fourth of July. It's a midsummer celebration of the one thing that we all have in common, our country. And unlike the other large annual holidays, Independence Day has never carried the emotional weight of a Christmas or Thanksgiving. It's a fact that around the Winter holidays the suicide rate increases because presumably people are sad that they are alone or it's a first Christmas without a parent, or spouse, or maybe just because it's really fucking cold.

But trust me, no one is killing themselves on the fourth of July, unless they accidentally turn themselves into a human Roman candle, which at least they died doing something they love.

No there is no heaviness to the Fourth of July, nor is there much of a family obligation. It is about getting fucked up at a poolside barbecue and blowing some shit up all in the name of America, the greatest country in the world.

Look around you today, everyone is miserable. They are sunburned, dehydrated and may be limping due to some party related injury. You can smell a collective hangover in the office, even the annoying self righteous guy in HR that gives you shit for your partying is moving a little slow today.

And I bet if you surveyed them, they would all do it again, because...America.

I saw all your instagrams, a whole lot of smiles, tan lines and boats. It was like the lyrics of a bad country song, all of you.

And I ask...why can't every weekend be like this?

Well the short answer is, it can.

Sure, weather, finances and the physiology of excessive drinking prevent large scale reproductions of Independence Day weekend, year round, but let me share some thoughts on how you can live your life as an endless summer on about 100 bucks a weekend.

Friday I woke up at 9 AM and biked over to Main St for the Santa Monica Independence Day parade. This provided just enough small town nostalgia to get me through the rest of the weekend. I had earned my first beer, and a smoothie (this would be the last thing I would eat until Sunday morning) I arrived  at my first pool party of the day around noon and proceeded to drink Budweisers and Jell-O shots for the better part of 5 hours (Jell-O is a product of Kraft Foods, based in Illinois. Very American) During this time I invented a drinking game, and got in a lengthy argument with two girls about whether drinking Corona made them anti-American (as it turns out, Corona is not really a Mexican beer anymore, it is owned by Crown Imports LLC based out of Chicago, I gave them a pass)

Oh the drinking game? It's world cup themed! In team flip cup (can) you play first team to 6, win by two, like tennis. However, if two teams are tied at 6, I proposed the shootout. Pick your best 5 players, bring them to the middle one at a time for ONE FLIP do or die. The stress and tension is nearly unbearable, my team won on penalty kicks 5-3.

By the time I arrived at my second party, the keg was having issues and there was nothing left but hard alcohol. I proceeded to engage in several games of fireball pong. This is not advisable, and one of the reasons I expect to live to about 45. I think I was half blacked out in the Pacific Ocean, body surfing dangerously close to some very large rocks by the time the fireworks started, but I was able to hobble home and make it into bed before I puked or passed out in an alley. Successful fourth.

Woke up at noon with a terrible hangover. Sat in my underwear until about 2pm watching the Robocop remake. It is not good. Managed to rally just enough to take these two for a walk.

(That's Frank the dog from Men in Black on the left, Cooper is the Golden)

Collapsed onto the couch again. Watched the Old Boy remake. It is not good. Decided the only thing that could cure my hangover was an adventure. Went on an adventure.

Malibu Creek State Park is in this strange ether between Calabasas and Malibu. Technically it is north of Mulholland Hwy, and I loathe giving the 818 credit, so let's call it Malibu. Malibu Creek state park is a giant rec center for outdoor junkies. Mountain Climbing, hiking, camping, there is a little something for everyone. But on this particular day, I was there for one reason, and that reason was to jump off a fucking cliff.
Pictured: Also not me

See that hero there? He knows what he was doing. In fact, if you go to you can see this guy and all of his friends jumping off crazy shit like it ain't NOTHING. Well let me tell's certainly something.
I parked on a side of the road and started the 3 mile hike to the rock pool, getting lost about 5 times and asking for directions every 5 minutes like I was an Asian Tourist. By the time I arrived at the rock pool (after sleeping until noon, watching 2 terrible movies and driving 50 miles) the sun was low in the sky and the park was about to close. There were some teenagers smoking pot behind a large rock, families having picnics and a few feisty teenagers standing at the top of the rocks, thinking about jumping.

Of course I had no fear. I used to jump the quarries in Bloomington, I grew up dam sliding Geist Reservoir. I ran a sprint triathlon once...a 70 foot jump into a lake I GOT THIS.

When I got to the top and looked down, I almost pissed myself. The local sage (a 9 year old Mexican kid) told me to make sure I point my toes because one of his friends broke his arm on a bad entry and there is a rumor that some kid tore his sack open. (Which of course is exactly what you want to hear right before jumping) I was understandably fearful, but then he took a few running strides and jumped. He hit the water, popped up and started shouting at me below. Come on man! It's fun!

Time was of the essence, and looking back I should have done more due dilligence. Maybe checked the depth, maybe asked around to see if anyone my size had any pointers, but hey this kid is fucking 9, and he did it! So I took a few steps and I jumped.

Keep your legs together. Point your toes. Clear the rocks below.

Two things I forgot to consider. I weighed about three times what that nine year old weighed and doing a pencil means you lose very limited amounts of speed on entry. And I hit the bottom. HARD.

As I surfaced, whimpering like a stray dog who had just been clipped by a pickup truck, my 9 year old Mexican friend and his family helped me to shore, half concerned, half laughing at my apparent butt agony.

"Oh sorry man, I forgot to tell you, it's only 8 feet deep there, you have to jump off to the left."

I'm currently sitting on a pillow at the office.

It's a known fact that when you take a Saturday off, you are encouraged to imbibe on Sunday, and what better way to start it than with bottomless brunch? For 40 bucks each, you and 20 of your friends can get unlimited champagne and banana french toast for 6 hours.

When you go the beach for 0 dollars each, you and your friends can play volleyball and drink wine out of plastic cups for 4 hours.

And when you go to Mao's for about 7 dollars each, you can obnoxiously play drinking games and drink wine for about 3 hours.

And after 13 hours of drinking on a Sunday, with a bruised tailbone, it's often best to go home and start watching some HBO. I've decided The Leftovers is dog shit and I'm going to watch Deadwood instead. This is the time that it is acceptable to start dreading the weekend. It's ok just drink so much water that you leave yourself just short of h20 poisoning (it's a real thing.)

My weekend wasn't all that remarkable. I primarily bummed around Venice, drank a lot of beer and spent significant time in several bodies of water. I live at a vacation destination so it wasn't that difficult to accomplish this. I imagine many of you had rope swings, houses at the Hamptons, things it may not be easy to recreate each weekend. But I ask you, think to how you felt the middle of Friday, not how you feel now. How you feel now is proof that life has consequences. If we lived in a world free of repercussions, there would be mass anarchy and a high rape/murder rate. But our actions cause reactions, when you jump off something high without looking, you might feel like you've been prison raped. When you drink hard for 3 days straight Monday will suck.

But ignore all that, and go back to Saturday at noon, or Friday at 5, or Sunday at sunset. How did you feel then? What were you doing that made you feel that way? You can do that every weekend, you can do whatever you want. There are societal norms that we may live inside, but the only consequences that are REAL are rocks at the bottom of a lake, alcohol winthdrawl, sunburn.

I don't necessarily subscribe to sayings like "you're only as old as you feel" even though I think I still have much more in common with someone who is 24 than someone who is 30 (or even 27) but I do believe in certain mindsets, and if "Living the Fourth" for someone fresh out of the Cathedral High School Senior retreat was living with positivity through God, my "live the fourth is" drinking beer on a beach while fireworks go off. It's like that Corona ad campaign, find your beach. Whatever the shit that makes you happy that.

Because one day this will all be over and all we'll have left is the memories, and I want to remember boats, burgers and flip flops, now that I think about it, maybe I should just go to more Jimmy Buffet concerts.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Born on the Fourth of July: A Last Minute Weekend Planning Guide

This Eagle definitely got invited to a lake hose this weekend.
Los Angeles is better than New York. In fact, if you live on the west side of Los Angeles, you objectively live in the greatest neighborhood in the world. Every single day is as if you are living in a dream state. The weather is perfect, each day is ripe with limitless opportunities and there are no insects.

I could write a novel length dissertation about the various reasons that "The city" kinda sucks. But the truth is, compared to the rest of the country, New York is pretty great. Look if you want to bitch about the Hobby Lobby decision, kick it in Williamsburg with Albanian cab drivers in a dirty, tiny ass apartment so you can pretend to be the hipster spawn of Lena Dunham and Frances Ha, that's your business, so long as you know that you're in second place. I award you a set of steak knives.

The rest of the country is a tie for third, which isn't bad, because you still live in the greatest country in the world. And that's what this week is about. Starting today there will be a celebration of America that will end whenever my hangover kicks in this weekend. I'm hoping I can continually drink until about Sunday at noon and just die, but sometimes when you shoot for the moon, you hit the roof.

So from here on out on this post there will be no LA/NY Iggy A/Nikki M shade throwing. Today we are all Americans cheering for a bunch of short guys in a sport we really don't understand and dammit if that isn't what this country is all about I don't know what is. (#Ibelievethatwewillwin)

But After we all leave work at 1pm today and go straight to the bar (2pm for Denver homies, 3pm for Chitown, 4pm for NYC) to cheer on USMNT over the evil waffles, that will only be the beginning of the holiday bender. You probably have Friday off work, and you may be in need of some last minute plans to ensure you have an epic weekend. WELL LOOK NO FURTHER, I am here to save your Independence Day Weekend with a few last minute ideas to properly display your patriotism!

Please note, all plans will include the following:
-Large bodies of water
-Wearing a swimsuit and some type of red, white and blue accessory
-Shit that explodes

So for many of you that won't be too far a deviation from a typical Saturday afternoon, but for others it will take some stepping out of the comfort zone. Just remember, always pack a swimsuit and never order your burger anything past medium. Let's start with the most ambitious last minute weekend, to the easiest.

At this point in your life, hopefully you have a rainy day fund of a few hundred bucks to do something impulsive and awesome. And even if you don't just take those bills and kick the can down the road a while, pay them when you're ready. Credit scores are overrated, your parents worked hard for many years in order to be able to co-sign your mortgage when you default on your Audi payment (it may have been a stretch but that S8 is SICK)

Some day there will be more barriers to entry on last minute vacations. Kids, a nagging wife, a cunty boss who wants some work done over the weekend...As of right now the Hard Rock Hotel in San Diego has rooms for $300 a night. Sure, that's a bit pricey, but divide it by 4? It's basically free. Road trips are fun, and nothing says America like ripping Fireball shots at a Pacific Beach bar with eight 23 year old blondes in American Flag bikinis. Did you know you can also rent a boat for the day? And don't worry about BUIs. Those only exist in fake cities that don't have murders to solve. Next time a cop pulls you over on Monroe tell him to leave you alone and go find *REDACTED*

Other LA drivable lacations: Newport, Mexico, Palm Springs, Malibu

So you don't live in LA and you can't quickly get to another vacation destination via a quick drive. NO WORRIES. Going to a lake house is almost as much fun. The best part about going to the lake is a fairly contained atmosphere of lawlessness. You are going to take over someone's house with 8 of your friends, drink all day on the boat and then go to some place like the Frog (Wawasee) or Chuck's (Geneva) At some point you will watch fireworks from the boat, and you will most certainly have an incident when someone almost sinks said boat or drowns.

Going to the lake is probably the thing I miss most about the midwest. Something about playing catch phrase, skinny dipping and drinking Old Crow on the end of a dock until 5 o clock in the morning always feels right. And please wake me up at 7am on two hours sleep when you guys go wakeboarding. Just make sure there are a few cold rally beers leftover. Haven't been invited to go to the lake? Offer to drive. For whatever reason lakes are always in a miserable remote town and everyone hates driving, likely because they know how hungover they will be on Sunday. Still don't have an invite? Offer to bring the cocaine.

Top 5 Midwest lakes: 1. Geneva (WI) 2. Wawasee (IN) 3. Diamond Lake (MI) 4. Lake Cumberland (KY) 5. Lake Michigan (various) Also receiving votes: Sweetwater (IN nostalgic favorite) Lake of the Ozarks (too family oriented) Not receiving votes: Geist. "Rehab" has fucking shamed my childhood

Ok so you didn't rally a group to go on a road trip and you didn't get invited to a lake house (blame your parents, they should have bought you your own lake house) SURELY, you know someone with access to a pool and a grill.

This is basically a variation on what I will be doing this weekend. After the Hermosa Beach Ironman I will try to bike back to Marina Del Rey where I will sit in a hot tub and drink Budweiser for 12 hours, then I will limp back to Venice Beach and prop myself in a corner for the night/fireworks portion of the party. My body will be discovered at some point on Monday I'm sure.

The pool party/bbq is an absolute classic. It involves loud music, lots of skin and the ability to take unnecessary risks (like grinding down the metal pool ladder handles or doing backflips into 4 foot water) You get to bag some rays and then once you're SUPER drunk, play with your own "out of state" fireworks kit. At some point maybe you'll saunter off to a bar with some chick you're trying to close, but I maintain that 4th weekend is one time to avoid bars. They tend to frown on bare feet and wet swimsuits. Play 74 games of beer pong. Get bags going. Bocce or beach volleyball...or my personal favorite. FOUR CORNERS. Four people get into the four corners of a pool and then someone throws a beer in the middle of the pool, and everyone fights for it. IT'S GREAT!

Best types of pools: 1. Private pool 2. Rooftop building pool 3. Mansion Pool 4. Apartment complex pool (for peak obnoxiousness and zero fuck giving)

If you haven't been invited on a trip, to a lake or even a friend's party, you are fucking pathetic and maybe you should just hide in your room all day and feel shame.

NAY! It is your right as an American to get fucked up and destroy something on the 4th of July, just like we destroyed Great Britain's fighting spirit after the American Revolution. I think one year I was grounded and couldn't go to Matt Dowd's pool party because I had taken a called third strike or something in a baseball tournament. (Had I hit a homerun and then killed a man, I would have been able to go to the party AND gotten a new video game. Value systems) My mom felt bad for me and took me to get a shit ton of fireworks for my brother and I to shoot off from our basketball court/sandbox. I ended up going to and downloading the anarchists cookbook and learning how to make a drano bomb. I listened to the National Anthem on repeat while watching the Geist fireworks and elaborately setting up dozens of army men and a real life bomb in the sandbox. I emptied a two liter of RC cola and filled it with tiny aluminum foil balls, I then emptied half a bottle of Drano into the two liter and closed it tight.

Nothing happened.

Until two hours after the fireworks show ended, there was an eruption from our backyard that sounded like a god damn nuke. I was in the pool at the time and my parents frantically ran around the yard looking for the cause of the commotion. I quickly rushed to blame some of the high school kids that lived next door. The next day I went out to the sandbox to survey the damage.

There were no survivors.

Enjoy the holidays everyone and GO USA!