Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Greek Life

A lot has been made in the media as of late about fraternities and the negative lifestyles they perpetuate. There have always been stereotypes associated with rampant alcohol abuse, but a couple years ago hazing came to the forefront and when people got sick of that story “The Greek system has a rape problem.”

In the past my response to this would have been something along the lines of “fucking loser geeds are probably just jealous blah blah blah” but as this is a topic that is important to me I decided I would attempt to pen a thoughtful response with some positive counterpoints.

I grew up in Indiana. It’s a pretty cool place. $500,000 can buy you a house on the nicest lake in the state, people are nice and it’s safe. It’s about as American as it gets. That said, in my community everyone was white, Christian and upper middle class. Most people grow up to do whatever their dad does. My dad is an investment broker, he moves money around for people for a living. It’s a good job, but I never got on board with the idea with asking people to give me their money, so it was never going to work out. For a while, I kicked around the idea of being a lawyer, but upon arrival at Indiana University I had largely no idea what I wanted to do with my life.

I rushed an IU Fraternity the fall of 2005. There were 20 guys in my pledge class, 100 guys in my house. Judging from the previous paragraph one could say I grew up in a bit of a bubble, the day I joined a house that all changed. I met people from all over the country, interested in all sorts of different shit and I had to learn how to get along with all of them.

But that was just my house…next door there were a different 20 guys and they were in a different pledge class in a different house of 100 people that they had to get along with. But they also had to get along with us because over the next four years we would be literally growing up together. The same was true up the street with the sororities. Many of us had the same classes, went to the same bars, dates the same people, went on the same spring break trips. In fact by Sophomore year all that ‘my frat is better than your frat shit is over’ and what remained (at least in Bloomington) was one large Greek family.

Frat culture is not a culture of rape, it’s a culture of family.

And that was a large contributing factor in what drove the decisions I would make in college. Not only did I have a pledge class and fraternity house to keep me accountable; I had my buddies in Delt, Sigma Chi, Phi Sig, Acacia to tell me when I was being a fuckstick. But also I knew I had three layers of support any time I was remotely in trouble. If a local Bloomington resident were to get a little out of hand and hit me with a bottle out at a bar, he was dead. Every person in that bar had my back.

Similarly, everyone knew that if ANY girl was touched against her will that guy was done for.  These Sorority girls were who we had been drinking with, going to dances with, laughing and crying with for four years. They were like little sisters that you occasionally got incesty with.

As for secrets, I simply don’t see it. There is a famous phrase that goes, two may keep a secret if one is dead. In plain English that means, it is hard as fuck to keep a secret between two people, let alone something like 4,000.

If you cheated on a girlfriend/boyfriend you would be found out in about 22 minutes. If you blacked out and shit yourself everyone would know, and then it would blow over and everything would be cool. The one constant, if you were ever in serious trouble, someone would be there to pick you up, because that’s what family is for.

Sure, there were moderate squabbles over the years. A drunken brawl, the classic ATO/Acacia race day fight, the constant picking on Fiji, but isn’t that what siblings do? They fight and then grab a beer.

I remember the morning after my Senior bar crawl, myself and one of our coaches woke up on the couch together; a bootlegged copy of movie Taken was still looping in the background. We were informed that the rest of our team had been thrown in jail during said bar crawl. So we went and bailed them out and then had breakfast at the Village Deli, because that’s what you do.

There was never a question about whether or not to help a fellow Greek in trouble it was ‘what can I do?’

The college experience may inherently be flawed, but what I remember was having a lot of fun with my friends, both men and women. The narrative in the media seems to be that of frats as a he-man woman hating club that waits for unsuspecting women to come drink their booze and then they pounce like monsters.

That’s not what I remember at all. I remember eating brunch at Tri Delt on Fridays and smoking cigs in the Chi O courtyard. I remember skipping class to rent boats with Alpha Phi. I don’t remember these coordinated attacks on women. But perhaps that was just my experience.

A teacher of mine once told me that a drunk person will never do something that they “won’t” do. They will do something they wouldn’t ordinarily do, but not something they won’t do.

If you black out and hook up with a guy. Congratulations, deep down, you’re a little bi-curious and that’s ok. College is about finding yourself. But if you think you can get drunk and take advantage of a woman, you are a monster.

I’ve had bad nights. A bad night is waking up in the tank. A bad night is calling an ex-girlfriend a slut. A bad night is losing your phone. A really bad night is getting a DUI.

But all of those you can come back from, it is ok to fuck up in college.

Hitting a woman? That is not a bad night. But unless 4,000 people were able to keep this dark secret this BIG secret from me, I don’t think it was happening. I mean not to toot my own horn, but I was on the inner circle. If IU had The Skulls I would have been Paul Walker.

Again, shooting out a rival frat's window with a potato canon is a fuck-up (an awesome fuck up) you pay for the window and buy the guy a beer. You abuse a woman? You're out. Simply put. Fraternities and sororities know they live under a microscope and almost any amount of hijinks can be forgiven, not this. Zero tolerance.

By the time Spring Break came around Senior year I went on to Mexico with a group of my closest friends. Men, women, pledge brothers, peeps from B school, they just all happened to be Greek and even though we were in a sketchy part of the world, I had never felt more safe because everyone was looking out for each other.

This is not to say that there aren’t problems. It seems that when you read about alcohol abuse and possible sexual assault relating to fraternities a Freshman is involved. Maybe ban all first semester Freshman from being in any Greek house during a social function. This is not victim blaming, it is just saying maybe first semester young men and women could do well to get their college legs under them. At 18 you are immature, small, have low alcohol tolerance. Automatic one year ban for any house that violates this policy. Will it stop alcohol abuse and sexual assault?

No. I don’t know how to fix those issues.

I just know that joining a house I learned how to be the person I wanted to be. I found out there was more to the world, I could leave, I could pursue something creative…and I did. I’m still friends with a lot of the men and women I met in college, specifically through the Greek system and I’m not sure I’ve had a single conversation with anyone that wishes they could take it all back.

I suppose in closing, I would just urge people to offer real insight into any issue they address. I know it’s very easy to pile on the Greek system right now, or even my home state of Indiana. Lots of hot takes left and right. I long for a time that in order to affect change you have to do more than fire off 140 characters while taking a shit. If half as many people focused on themselves as opposed to directing faux outrage at something they know largely nothing about, the world would be a better place. To the people going through this now, there will be people rooting for you to fail, but I will always be cheering for you, the Greek system. It was one of the most positive experiences of my life.

Perhaps there are non-Greeks out there that actually believe fraternities need to go away forever…but those fucking loser geeds are probably just jealous.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

AWOL Podcast Promo

I made a short...it's terrible, but it's a thing! That I made!

This is not good. It is too long. It is grainy. The sound is bad. It is poorly edited.


There are maybe one or two laughs, I shot it for nothing and it took me an hour.

Behold the failed promo video for my new podcast coming summer 2015.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Let's Make a Movie

Today on Facebook I linked to keynote speech Mark Duplass delivered at SXSW this year. The message was simple. Stop making excuses and go make shit. He tells tales of shooting shitty shorts for no money, stealing from Best Buy and making movies in his apartment. You probably didn't watch, because well, I don't watch any of the stupid shit that you post. But seriously, just watch it now.

Aren't you fucking pumped? Don't you want to run through a brick wall? I don't care if you don't want to make movies, this should inspire you to do whatever the fuck it is you want to do, be it crappy design projects on Etsy or scaling fucking Everest.

Over the past couple years I've spouted out a bunch of bullshit that hasn't come to fruition. I discussed writing a memoir, but then I got discouraged about the self-indulgent and quite honestly repellant nature about what I had to say and abandoned it.

But you know what? I could just as easily expand on a few stories from this blog, add a couple new ones and self publish it on Amazon. I could call it something like Eight Balls and Food Stamps (the Walmart version could be called iPads and Food Stamps) In fact I started this a few weeks ago and I'm pleased with the progress. It's not high art, but maybe people will have a laugh about the time I blacked out in France, woke up in Italy and got beat up by a bum. Sounds like a good bathroom read.

Similarly last summer I announced a podcast that is yet to come to fruition. It takes a lot of equipment and technical skill that I lack.

But you know what? I could just as easily record some shit on an iPhone and just throw it up on here. I've got a working title "Always West of Lincoln" and a signature segment planned called "Why are you Hungover?" It's basically an unedited recap of your weekend and why myself (and a guest) feel like dog shit on a Sunday night. Jurassic Park 4 was in development for 10 years, my podcast was only announced in August. I think it may still happen.

So the point is, I'm a violent offender of this. I should stop talking about this shit and just do it. About the only thing I have ever maintained a commitment to is this blog. I get emailed leads for other writing opportunities once in a while but I never follow up because I'm scared.

Well no more of that bullshit. It's over.

So let's make a fucking movie.

I don't know much about directing, lighting, camera work. If we make a movie, it will probably be shitty, but here is what I do know...

-My neighbor has a nice camera. We could probably use it.

-My roommate's girlfriend has a cool apartment. We could probably use it.

-My roommate works in a subterranean office space on the beach. It has a bar. We could probably use it.

-I have an apartment. I have a car. I work in a large office park in Santa Monica. We can use all of those.

So there we go, we have four locations, we can illegally sneak a quick beach shot and a few establishing shots of Venice.

Boom. So now we have enough for a microbudget feature that takes place in an office, two apartments and a bar.

Now we need a premise. It could literally be anything, well anything that could feasibly take place in those 4 locations. Coming of age dramedy would be best, because that's what I'm ok at. There should be 2-4 main characters. We can round up the homies for party scenes.

So how do we get a premise? I don't know, think about anything that has bugged you in the past couple of weeks. I've been thinking about hitting up an open mic and here are a few of the bits I have planned.

1. Girls on the Bachelor saying the wrong shit (they shouldn't brag about dead husbands, they should brag about their father's wealth)
2. How I can be friends with a gay guy and friends with a guy that doesn't drink, but probably not a gay guy that doesn't drink.
3. The flakiness of drug dealers (or why you would expect someone who deals drugs to be reliable)

Of those three topics, which is most conducive to a dialogue heavy film that takes place in very few locations over maybe as little as one night? How about option 3.

Hoping to impress a girl in Joshua Tree the following day, Dave and his female neighbor spend an evening trying to track down a bag of mushrooms in Venice.

Boom, how easy is that? Not strikingly original, but decent enough. It's a character piece. You can open it 5 O'clock on Friday, Dave is supposed to pick up from a co-worker who fucks up (my office) then he goes to his neighbor's house to discuss a contingency plan (my apartment) they get a hot lead that someone at a cool Venice Pregame knows a guy (my roommate's girlfriend's apartment) they hit some guy up and wait around all night, he never shows. They decide to hit up a bar to try another bad lead. (My roommate's office) But Dave sees the girl he has a crush on who he is supposed to go to Joshua Tree with the next day and she's making out with some other dude and they go home together. BUMMMMMMER. Dave and his neighbor go back to her house to get drunk, they've been miserable all night waiting for drug dealers and hanging out with hipster dickheads. They get drunk and decide to take a sunrise walk on the beach (really short scene we shoot on the beach without permits) He realizes maybe his neighbor has been the girl the whole time. THEY FUCKING KISS AND PLAY IN THE WATER.

Cut to...the next day. The fucking slutty chick comes over to Dave's apartment (oh shit I need a third apartment. SOMEONE GIVE ME A THIRD APARTMENT) We see that the neighbor slept over but oh shit there is a knock at the door. It's slutty Joshua Tree chick. She explains that she thinks someone slipped something in her drink and doesn't remember the night before but is really looking forward to Joshua Tree. OH NO, so it's not slutty Joshua Tree girl's fault? WHO DOES OUR HERO CHOSE?

He gets in the car with slutty Joshua Tree chick leaving neighbor girl behind. Sad.

But then just when sad neighbor girl watches slutty Joshua Tree girl's car pull away (my Mini Cooper) we see that Dave did NOT get in the car. He says something witty. We smash to black. THE FUCKING END. We'll shoot it in 2 days. Two take maximum, we'll never drop into coverage. Lots of wide shots.

That's a movie. See how easy that was? Or I don't know, maybe it's a 5 minute short about people waiting around all night for a drug dealer to show up. IT'S A METAPHOR MAN, for how we're wasting our life waiting on pointless shit.

Or we can do something totally different. How about a short about two roommates crafting an email to their landlord trying to figure out how to tell him they burned the apartment down? How about a roommate rivalry with escalating passive aggressive notes? I'll provide amazing craft service. I'm talking McDonald's, Del Taco and potentially catering provided by Mao's. All wrap parties will be at Townhouse.

The point is, we can do it. Maybe we can't make a movie right away, but we can shoot a three dollar short. I want to start doing things and just throwing stuff out there. It's likely not much will come of it, but it will make me happy. This blog makes me happy. My unsold scripts make me happy. I like putting stuff out in the world, good or bad, I enjoy trying. I'm very impulsive, I would rather do something badly than talk about how to maybe do something the right way...some day.

Measure twice, cut once? Fuck it, just hack that bitch up and see what happens.

I am going to make it my goal moving forward to talk less and do more. I encourage you to do the same. The things that I sometimes perceive to be important probably aren't. I have figured out the things I love to do. I like to travel, I like to go on adventures and I really like making stuff.

Join me. Start that art project, design that website, record that demo. Also, let me know what I can do for you.

I have an apartment, a projector, a car, a bike and a surfboard. Those are pretty much my only possessions. Actually the projector isn't even mine, but I can screen your short to people. I'll even make buffalo dip. And let me know what you can throw into the equation. I'll take anything. Maybe you have access to a old barn or maybe a boat. Wow think about what we could do with a boat! I'm down for whatever, I'll collaborate or even just help you lift some heavy shit if need be.

Or...maybe you want to hike half dome. Maybe you want to go sky diving. I'm always down for that shit too. We can film it! It's time to stop talking and start living.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Post Traumatic Party Disorder

A physical manifestation of my post-Mardi Gras shame.
I am in bad shape today, worse than most Mondays. This is of course because I had a reckless weekend down in San Diego. I went to a concert, used questionable moral judgment and now I'm fighting off withdrawal symptoms by drinking a gallon of water every 5 minutes.

It's pretty bad, but I have been much, much worse. See, sometimes I go somewhere and a series of events happens that results in me getting so fucked up that I literally give myself a lifetime ban. I can never go back. The mere thought of returning to the scene of the crime makes me nauseous. I call it Post Traumatic Party Disorder. It's exactly like real PTSD but with partying instead of war. Because the two are so comparable right?

How close was San Diego to earning a lifetime ban? I would say about as close as Indiana was to missing the NCAA Tournament. Let me talk you through it...

Saturday I drove down to San Diego and began drinking heavily (among other activities I wouldn't care to disclose) around noon. I was at a music festival for 12 hours and it was 93 degrees out. I danced, I made out with a stripper, I put a fat girl on my shoulders. It was a great day. Had I called it a night, everything would have been fine.

But I didn't! I continued to party with our neighbors until four o clock in the morning! We went to this heroin den of a nightclub in the San Diego ghetto (it exists!) I attempted to have sex with a Filipino girl (I failed!) And had I gone to bed at 4am and slept until noon, everything would have been fine.

But I didn't! I woke up the next day and drank heavily (among other activities I wouldn't care to disclose) I went to brunch, I went to another bar, and I came SO FUCKING CLOSE to going to the second day of the festival. Like every bone in my body wanted to push through and keep the binge going. I legitimately considered partying all night, sleeping on the floor, waking up at 4am, snorting an Adderall and driving to work, in Santa Monica.

But I didn't...thus no lifetime ban. No I stopped drinking at 4pm, half napped, half watched The Dark Knight Rises until 8pm. Then I drove back to LA. I stopped 4 times to take a break. (McDonald's twice, once for beef jerky and gas, once to just sit down and dump a bottle of water on my head) I was so paranoid about getting pulled over for DUI that I took the PCH the whole way home instead of the freeway. I got back to LA at midnight, slept a few hours and went to work. It sucked.

BUT NO LIFETIME BAN. I will be back some day San Diego, I cannot wait.

But I haven't always been that lucky. The following is a non-exhaustive list of the places I will never return and what led me here...

New Orleans, LA
Inciting Incident: Mardi Gras
Downfall caused by: Alcohol

You've heard my Mardi Gras story, it's a classic tale of too much of a good thing. There is a reason spring break ends at 22, that is the last age you can sustain drinking 18 hours a day for a week straight. If you try that at say 25, you get something called delirium. It is basically alcohol withdrawal that is so bad you can die.

For a snap shot of just how fucked up I was on this trip I will say the following: For a week straight, I went to a bar called The Tropical Isle, smashed hand grenades (50% everclear 50%sugar)  and asked girls if I could literally suck on their tits with another one of my friends. I'm serious. "Hi, I'm Dave, that's Matt, can we suck on your tits? No? What if we buy you a drink first? Cool." I had a success rate of about 12%. That means almost 9 out of 10 chicks I talked to that weekend slapped me and told me to go fuck myself. Do you know how drunk you need to be to pull that shit off? I think at some point I wanted to stop but my buddy gave me the Al Pacino speech from Any Given Sunday. That speech could convince me to run through a brick wall or assassinate a foreign head of state.

Anyway that weekend ended with me having a withdrawal related seizure on the bottom bunk at a hostel while 2 fat people had sex above me. That's how a town earns a lifetime ban.
Probability of reversing ban: 1%

Bloomington, IN
Inciting Incident: Little 500
Downfall caused by: Everything

I will return to Bloomington. In fact I'm going back in a few months. But I will never go back to a Little 500 the rest of my life. I went back in 2010 and it was cool, a lot of my friends were still around, but two years out I vowed not to go. My run was over. I was working glorified telemarketing at the time and it was the Friday of Little 5. My firing from that company was coming any day now (I think they had found the blog already) My manager comes to my wing at 5pm on Friday and announces "Hey guys, let's all make 50 more calls before we leave for the weekend. Smile and Dial!"

Fuck that.
I made one call.
To my drug dealer... and started driving south.

By 2011 molly was an open door drug in frats and EDM had taken over the world. Gone were the days of ironic boy band music and "Country Roads," the race day courtyard of my old frat looked like the opening scene of 'Spring Breakers' It was pretty rad. But after a day of drinking at the frat and then Kilroy's I found myself so drunk that I couldn't walk, but so cracked out on uppers that I couldn't black out. I remember each and every time I fell on my face trying to crawl back to the Courtyard by Marriott. I still have blood stains on my pink shorts and scars on my forehead from that night.
Probability of reversing ban: 0%

Las Vegas.
Inciting Incident: Various Bachelor Parties
Downfall Caused by: Probably the semen in the pools

Every time I go to Vegas for more than 12 hours I get sick for like two weeks. Next time you ask me to come to Vegas? NOOOOOOOOPE!!!
Probability of reversing ban: 25% (It's so close)

Inciting Incident: Study Abroad
Downfall Caused by: WEED BRO

Want to feel like a really huge piece of shit? First abandon your roommate when his appendix explodes on the train to Amsterdam. Then when you get there get super stoned. While stoned, go visit the house of a poor Jewish girl that was killed at a Nazi death camp and then to top it all off, miss your flight home because you were stoned and buy a new $600 flight on your parents' credit card.
This is why I don't smoke weed yo.
Probability of reversing ban: 5%

Lower East Side
Inciting Incident: MLK weekend
Downfall Caused by: NYC

The first time I ever went to New York I fell in love with the city. It was summer, I was staying in a house on Long Island. I had friends that were home for the summer, they had pools. I took the LIRR to Manhattan during the day and did touristy shit. At night I went to divey bars. It was fun.

Then when my homey Paul moved into a church in Union Square, I decided to go back and visit him in January. The sinning done in that old converted church redefines irony. I've repressed most of the memories of that weekend but what I do remember is drinking about 100 beers in Brother Jimmy's, someone getting stabbed at a night club and staying out until 6 in the morning on a fucking SUNDAY. My flight was at 7am, I was planning on going to work! The only reason I made my flight was because a blizzard delayed in three hours. I called in sick 3 days in a row, I didn't leave my room, I turned my phone off and blacked out the curtains in my room. I imagine that is what depression feels like. When I walked into work after calling in sick three days in a row after not answering any phone calls or emails I was told "You know people were really worried about you."

"Oh, well I mean I had sick days"
"With what?"

What's the politically correct way to say a brutal coke comedown? Fuck New York.
Probability of reversing ban: 50%

Lincoln Park
Inciting incident: Beaumont
Downfall caused by: I don't know where to begin

Again this is a specific place. I will go back to Lincoln Park but I am certain I will never go back to Beaumont. For those of you that don't know. Beaumont was a bar that was open from 1am-5am Wednesday-Saturday. There was a time in my life that I wanted to be around the type of people that went to a bar in Lincoln Park from 1 to 5 in the morning (hint: it was all drunk former sorority girls!)
Now I prefer to order draft beer. I like my bars to close at 2. I can't even really hit the dance floor anymore. I get to sweaty.

I went to a fucking bar last night for St. Pats (I started this blog on a Monday, finishing on a Wednesday) I sweat through 2 different shirts. Do you know how badly a girl has to want to fuck you to go home with you when you're sweaty? Like if you need a girl to be 70% into you to go home with you when you're dry, she has to be like 96% about it if you're soaking.

Very few girls are 96% into me. I think I should probably just give up my reckless lifestyle and learn how to just like, have a conversation?
Probability of continuing to be a degenerate? 100%

Monday, March 9, 2015

Permanent Douchebaggery

Thursday night I was supposed to stay in. I don’t really love hitting the town on a school night. I always wake up the next day in a panic, wrecked from the night before, and shamefully show up to work about 30 minutes late and then spend the rest of the day miserable with a crippling hangover. Of course all of that is null and void if it’s summer and the previous night involved blacking out at the pier and/or Big Dean’s. But it is not summer, during spring I am a recluse Monday-Thurs.

That said, how dangerous can one lesson of ballroom dancing really be?

Apparently very dangerous, because that ballroom dancing lesson initiated a bender that ended late last night. If you asked me to describe how I’m feeling right now I would say, ‘eh about a C-.‘

After said ballroom dancing lesson I went to three bars, of course ending at Townhouse which of course happens to be the inspiration of this post.

Friday morning I woke up late (shocking!) did not shower, went to work, suffered through the day and came home.

Friday night I was supposed to stay in. I don’t really love hitting the town on the night after a day long hangover, but against my better judgment I walked to the First Friday food trucks on Abbot Kinney, hit three bars and went to bed wasted (again.)

However, something magical happened on Friday, my Townhouse stamp from the night before was still emboldened on my wrist. Though one may find it less than hygienic that I was now over 24 hours without a shower, I saved a solid 20 minutes NOT waiting in line.

The rest of the story is that Saturday I was supposed to stay in and I didn’t because I’m a glutton for punishment. I did, however, enter the Ocean Saturday, erasing my Thursday night stamp, so what this post presupposes is…maybe I didn’t?

Ok, so Saturday I had to wait in line to get into Townhouse. I was angry. Why couldn’t that stamp just stay there always? There is rarely a weekend night that goes by that I would rather be anywhere in the world other than that disgusting basement sweating all over a skinny twentysomething.

What if I got the Townhouse stamp tattooed on my wrist? It’s not that absurd is it? I mean at least juxtaposed against some of the other absurd tattoos I have considered…

11.  The Polo Horse - Chest
Era: Sophomore Year College
Douche Factor: Extreme

It is amazing how every single thing I came to idolize in college was the brain child of some Jewish dude named Ralph Lipschitz. Simply put, I used to think that Polo and pastels were God’s gift to the world. I called my closet the stable and would not leave 1200 N Jordan without a fresh horse, or a wrinkly horse or one of my roommate’s ponies.

Sophomore year, at the peak of my physique (I was working out the glam muscles daily at the SRSC) I frequently drank in the courtyard sans a shirt. The problem therein was that no one could possibly tell how fratty I was without a polo horse. The idea then, obviously, would to get a small black polo tattoo on the right side of my chest so people would know. THIS GUY IS PHRATTY AS PHUCK (get it? Because phi begins with a ph) Of course before I could actually go through with this preposterous idea I simply had my art major pledge bro draw it on in Sharpie for Little Five. I think I would really regret that ink today. (Note: I promise this photo exists somewhere on my FB, however, I could not find it after 2 minutes of effort.)

22.  AWOL - Shoulder
Era: 2012
Douche Factor: Medium

The year was 2012, the kids were transitioning from coke to molly and I was transitioning from solid colored polos to very loud bro tanks. Dubstep was at it’s peak and I was starting to get really into Venice. I started REALLY shit talking Los Angeles’ east side and started to refuse going east of the PCH.

Oh you want to play Penmar? Can’t even fucking do it bro. ALWAYS WEST OF LINCOLN.

I didn’t invent the mantra but I repped it super hard. I would only go to bars on Main Street and Windward and I finally thought that I found something that I was passionate enough to get inked. I even came up with this shitty back story about how AWOL doubled as my life mantra…something about going off the grid or blah blah blah NOW I CAN NEVER LEAVE VENICE.

The one thing that stopped me was what if one day I buy a house on like 10th street. AWOL could stand for Almost West of Lincoln? Nope unacceptable, could not stomach the hypocrisy.

33.  Frat letters – Back
Era: Freshman year of college
Douche Factor: High

After I was initiated in the spring of 2006, I was pretty fired up about all things frat. I spent nearly the next 40 nights blasting Backstreet Boys in the party room and getting fucked up with the other guys who were ending six months of slavery. A few of us got frat tats, I never strongly considered it and I’m glad. I saw the movie Neighbors yesterday and surprisingly hated it. They found this middle ground of mocking frats but also trying to make it look kinda cool, they needed to decide which way to go with it. Either realistic or more over the top absurd would have made a solid flick, but shirtless Troy Bolton yelling at Dave Franco for not taking partying seriously rang hollow to me. Also his horrible frat tat gave me anxiety.

44. Townhouse – Inside right wrist
Era: Yesterday
Douche Factor: Unknown

When I was in high school this kinda strange guy transferred to Cathedral his Senior Year. I remember being quite leary of him because I didn’t want him to steal my starting spot on the Lacrosse team. (Spoiler alert: Because of my tendency to commit major penalties I spent a lot of time on the bench that season) Anyway, during two a days that year I saw that he had the “your name” tattoo on his ass. I believe it was originally a Steve-o joke, details are hazy. But I found it oddly endearing. He also drove a 1970 Jeep, which I thought was totally rad. I remember making a conscious choice that even if he took my spot, I wouldn’t hold it against him. He quit the team like a week later, I got demoted, we won state…I guess we’ll call that a wash.

Anyway, I think people would have a similar reaction to a person that gets a bar stamp tattooed on his wrist. On one hand, it’s fucking stupid. It’s an obnoxious, degenerate alcoholic move. But it’s also kind of awesome.

That said, I still enjoy trying to have sex with conservative white girls and this would set me back. I’ll just have to be that guy that shows up to the bar before dinner for the pre-stamp only to return at midnight and bypass a gigantic line. No use in reinventing the wheel.

Sunday night I was supposed to stay in. God dammit, I feel like shit.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Kitchen Tables

The last time I lived in a home with a kitchen table I was 21 years old and staying with 10 frat guys at Viale Matteoti 25 Firenze, Italia. It was a nice table. We occasionally used it for dinner, more often it was involved in some sort of pregame ritual, be that beer pong, flip cup or just a place to set down your 40 when we went outside for a smoke.

That was seven years ago and I haven't owned a kitchen table since. I returned from Florence to move into a senior live out at IU that had a cool porch and front yard, but no kitchen table. I graduated college and moved to a three story brown stone in Lincoln Park that had a sick steam room, sauna and pool table but no kitchen table. I moved to LA and now I watch movies on my 20 foot screen...whilst eating Pad Thai on the couch.

It's not that I can't afford to go buy a kitchen table. I'm sure a couple hundred bucks could get me an entire set up with chairs and everything. I go to IKEA and Target fairly regularly, hell I cook a lot, but for whatever reason it just has never happened.

Sure there are some practical reasons. We have a small kitchen. A kitchen table would get in the way of the dart board, it would block my direct line to the water cooler when I'm hung over. (On Sundays I want to be standing the shortest amount of time possible, an extra 2 seconds round trip from couch to water cooler is something I would deem unacceptable) and of course the fact that I don't often have people over for dinner.

But what is more telling are the lifestyle reasons. I am a single dude, I don't mind eating on the couch, dare I say I enjoy it. My dad used to bitch at me for eating in front of the TV and now I can do it whenever I want. I eat a lot of meals out. I spend foolishly.

The truth is, I'm 28 and I have never had a serious girlfriend. I've always been much more comfortable getting drunk on the weekends and seeing what happens. If things seem to be getting too serious with a girl I often pull the rip cord before any real feelings get hurt. The fact remains, some of you are married, some have kids, some of you have been married and divorced already and I still haven't purchased my first kitchen table.

To say that there has been a paradigm shift in the priorities of my generation contrasted with that of my parents would be both an understatement and an oversimplification. By 28 my parents were homeowners and were just about getting pregnant with me (first child) Meanwhile I live in a 3 bedroom apartment with my homeys and do drugs in the desert. But that's just me. Lots of people in their mid to late 20's are buying homes and starting families. I just chose a path in which I live by the beach and have been to 22 countries vs the 3 my dad has made it to.

Just as I cannot fathom an average existence anywhere but here, there is an equal constituency that probably can't fathom life without a kitchen table.

So here's the deal...I'm going to give everyone a finance lesson really quick. We'll call it BROellernomics. No I already used that in an old post. How about algeBRO? Eh, I don't really like that either, but here's the situation...

Last week, for the first week in my life I netted $1000 in a weekly paycheck. A large chunk of that is in non-taxable mileage reimbursement because I drive a fuck ton for my job, but WHATEVER, the numbers are not important, the only thing that is important is I'm making more than I'm used to. One would think that this would slowly lead to an increase in my checking balance. After all, my rent didn't go up, my utilities stayed the same, naturally I will finally be able to start saving right? Dare I say contribute to a 401K?

No. Definitely not.

Broellernomics theory #1 If X equals a month's salary and Y equals expenditures, as X grows as will Y. This is essentially the transitive property. If A = B and B = C, A=C. In economics this would be called the break even point.

You make a $5000 a month, you spend $5000 a month. Your earnings and expenditures are equal, congrats your sheet is balanced.

In my world there are 3 types of expenses.

1. Shit that I just have to pay.

These are your basics. Rent, utilities, food. If you don't pay your rent, you get evicted. If you don't pay the internet bill, you can't look at porn. If you don't eat, you die. Sure, living rent free and being fed complimentary steaks every day would be great, but that's what being a kid is about I suppose.

2. Shit that I want (irresponsible spending)

A trip to Hawaii, booze, a new bike, an Alaskan cruise, a Jungle safari, a new car, hookers, an uber to Hollywood so I can go see Wicked for the 7th time.

These are the things that make me happy, I perceive them to improve my quality of life. 

3. Shit that I don't want to pay (responsible spending)

Oil changes, parking tickets, various insurance fees, new tires, preventative costs etc.

This is all that UGH stuff like new brakes that comes out of nowhere and always costs a bunch. Sometimes I just don't pay this shit. i.e. parking tickets because there is a 50/50 chance the local government is so fucked that they will never catch me. I have already destroyed my credit so that's not really a deterrent, plus the 7 years that it takes you to recover from bankruptcy seems less shitty every day. Seriously, if you have perfect credit borrow $100,000 and travel the world for 2 years, when you get back grab your nuts and declare bankruptcy. Piece of shit? Yes. Piece of shit with 2 years of good stories and fine credit by his mid 30's? Yes. Ok, that's horrible advice, promise me you will not do that.

So here is the problem. I always pay for the things in category 1, because I have to. Whatever money is left over I split roughly 90/10 between categories 2 and 3. Even though I know that getting my car fixed now will save me money in the long run, the trip to Vegas THIS weekend will always outweigh the responsible decision.

I guess what it comes down to is there will always be more things in the world that I want than I have money to buy, but I will buy as much of that shit as I possibly can. LOL I have a degree from Kelley.

Broellernomics theory 2: If you spend money on an experience, you can never undo that experience AKA You can't repo a memory. Economically this would be known as a sunk cost.

Ok as crass as that may sound, I do believe that having stuff is stupid. 20 years from now I won't remember what kind of clothes I wore, how nice my TV was, maybe even what kind of car I drove, but the trips? The experiences? That is gold. Seriously, I own nothing and it's pretty great. It's freeing. I would like to officially start the anti-asset minimalist living movement. If I killed a guy on accident I could grab a go bag and be out of the country in 2 hours.

The things I do now I will remember the rest of my life, you're only young once. What if I were to come down with terminal cancer tomorrow? Do you think I would be appreciative of the preventative maintenance on my car? I think there is one thing we can all agree on with money, you can't take it with you. If you are considering a month in Thailand but crunching the numbers just isn't working out, just fucking go. Do it. What is the worst that happens? You end up on your parents couch? You lose your job? Details. You can always join the military to begin your comeback story.

Broellernomics theory 3: The happiness equation H = S + C + V

No discussion of game theory or the tragedy of the commons here. Above is the happiness equation. Happiness equals biological set point (S) + Life Conditions (C) + Voluntary activities (V)

You can't control S and if you are reading this you're probably doing ok, so I posit that live is about the V.

I spend money and time on  a bunch of stupid stuff, but it's stuff that in the here and now make me feel better about myself. Visiting a friend in New York makes me happy, climbing a mountain excites me.

I don't need a fucking kitchen table. I've flown on a G5. I have family and friends that love me! There are a handful of people that read my garbage ramblings. And for that, I'm thankful.

So in summation, try not to measure yourself against your neighbor's kitchen table, job, wife, whatever. Don't worry about if you're living up to some abstract societal standard that you think should exist. If it is important to you to have a bunch of 0s in your savings account, do it! If bottles at Bungalow are more your thing, make it rain.

I have a spending versus earning problem...but I have a feeling it's not going away any time soon. Guess I'll just have to hit it big. Here's to hoping.