Wednesday, December 23, 2015

And then there were none

Old house > New house
I was having a nice Christmas break. I did my final improv show on Sunday. It was nice. I drank three bottles of wine, went sake bombing and THEN went ice skating. This was a bad idea. I woke up Monday with hundreds of bruises and some other guy's shoes. Sorry other guy! You can keep those ratty red Sperry's if you want.

On the flight back to Indy, I had an entire row to myself. Can you believe it? I laid down right away, just in case someone in an adjacent row tried to get in on my window action. NOPE! Sorry the Shelbyville woman next to you is 400 pounds, this is my row.

I went down to Bloomington yesterday. I even made my dad drive by ATO. I had some snarky Instagram pic ready to go when I got the text.

"Did you hear?"

This is always a bad text. When someone texts you "did you hear?" they are about to tell you someone died or got arrested. (If it's DID YOU HEAR?!?!?!?! it might be an engagement)

"No. Who died..."

"Phi Psi, check your email."

I checked my email and it appeared that the frat was indeed dead. The Indiana Beta charter had been revoked for marijuana and hazing related violations.

As someone who is 28 years old and has been out of school for over 6 years, this will have little impact on my life. I'm well past the age of going to Little 5 or even swinging by the undergrad tailgate if I were to check out a football game. However, I find myself angry because I see a societal shift happening and I don't like it.

I've read ironic articles about "The war on Christmas." It's hilarious. There are actually people out there that think that it is insensitive to tell someone Merry Christmas. On the flip side, there are people that take offense to the phrase 'happy holidays." The song "White Christmas" was recently banned for being racist. People were boycotting Starbucks because their Christmas cups weren't Christmasy enough.

Both sides of this argument are populated by morons. If you take part on either side of this so-called war on Christmas, you're a fucking idiot. That said, the "War on Greeks" seems to be something real and worth exploring.

When I went to school there was some bullshit class called 'Traditions and cultures of IU' one of the chapters of our text book was about the history of fraternities. It was interesting because you got to hear about some of the old hazing gone wrong stories that read to the demise of several organizations. One kid was forced to swim across lake Monroe and didn't make it. Another was forced to drink a half gallon of Jim Beam on his 'dad's night,' his autopsy report read that at the time of his death, his BAC was north of .48.

Hazing is bad, especially when it leads to death or injury, but on the flip side our reactionary society has gone the other way so hard on this issue that it has become a joke. When I was a pledge, we essentially got yelled at and did push ups. We also provided sober rides for the brothers. All three of these could be considered hazing by the letter of the law, but the reality of this 'hazing' was I had slightly more impressive pectoral muscles my Freshman year and a few of the older brothers avoided a DUI.

This brings us to marijuana, a drug that has been decriminalized in almost all forward thinking states. College kids smoke pot. It's not that big of a deal. Freshman pledges spend one semester of moderate discomfort cleaning up after older guys. It's not that big of a deal. No one is forcing them to be there.

Beyond my house, ATO was booted for hiring a couple of strippers/hookers...a grey area misdemeanor sure, but is it a crime worthy of evicting 100 young men? Probably not. A sarcastic sign that reads "Drop your daughters off here, hell leave Grandma too." Is it coarse? Sure. Is it funny? It's an old joke. Is it an infraction so bad that a social institution should be destroyed? Nah.

The Freshman and Senior Phi Psis will probably ride out the storm, but the Sophomores and Juniors college careers are ruined, or will at least take a significant blow. These guys have 10 days to find a new place to live. It will probably be somewhere shitty. Their social circles have dissolved. Good luck convincing your hot sorority girlfriend to bring her friends over to kick it with you 7 miles off campus!

I get it, it's hard to feel bad for a bunch of alpha males who routinely behave like assholes. It's easy to point a finger at buzz words like 'rape culture' and 'institutional racism.' The truth is, most of these hot take think pieces are pure click bait. Most frat guys want to do what most college students want to do: drink beer and play video games, if you get laid once or twice a semester, that's cool too.

Maybe as a white male it is hard for me to understand someone with an agenda. But I've never seen such hate come from a place of perceived jealousy. When I hear a SJW tell me I don't understand certain things because I'm a WHITE MALE, I feel that they resent me for it. It's the same way I feel when a foreigner complains to me about Americans. For a lot of people, a certain segment of people have just been at the top for too long and it's time for them to be brought down a few pegs, I honestly think this is why PC culture has determined frats should be abolished.

I met my best friends in college, specifically through my fraternity. I have lived with one for the past 4 years. Another in Los Angeles has helped me with several jobs. I've lived on couches of fraternity brothers in times of need, I've been to their weddings and had the best weekends of my life. If my back is ever against the wall, I know there are some guys out there that would move mountains to bail me out and I met most of them in Phi Psi.

Now I know frats aren't all good and there is some sketchy stuff that goes down within them, but all college kids are animals sometimes, not just the Greeks.

There is good too, the heartwarming story of the guys at UCLA that did their best to cheer up a 12 year old cancer patient around the holidays but you won't read about that anywhere else, because it doesn't fit a certain narrative. We did some bad things when I was in college, but we also did some good. I helped raise a million dollars for breast cancer through BMOC. My buddy Eric did a haunted house that supplied a LOT of food to local Bloomington food banks. I like to think that we were a net positive on the community as a whole. (And uh about that flooding of Jordan, we PROMISE that was just a hockey rink that melted, we're not engineers)

Wherever you stand on the issue, fraternities are going to go away and it's sad. I've never actively rallied against an organization's right to exist. I don't understand why outsiders hate us so much. Is it the GDI jokes? I've made a few, but it's all in good jest. I mean for fuck's sake, in this country the KKK is given the right to exist. Surely a few preppy kids with family money and a love of partying are not as bad as white supremacy?

It's clear Indiana's president, Michael McRobbie, has an agenda. I believe he is on record as being anti-Greek. Then again, I haven't thought much of him since he had one of his old drinking buddies hijack a commencement speech to instead discuss the plight of a gay man in Australia. It's not just the administration though, our nationals aren't a huge help either. Fraternities used to be about building lasting friendships and excellent networking. Now it seems they are more concerned with press clippings and maintaining a positive bottom line.

I may not speak for every former Greek when I say this, but if the kids aren't actively harming anyone, why don't you just leave them alone?

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Dear Santa

Sweater game ALWAYS been on point (and that turtleneck)

When I was a little kid I never imagined that I would be hard to shop for. I knew how to draft the FUCK out of a Christmas list. I would routinely ask for about $10,000 worth of shit, knowing I would get something closer to $1000. The privilege in that statement must drive you nuts. This is like a sample list from 8 year old me…

Dear Santa,
Lance on the bus said you're not real, but his parents are getting divorced because of something with a pool boy. Also he's Jewish, I bet he's just jealous. This is probably just his way of dealing with it. I was really good this year, don't listen to what my brother says. Can I have a new Hot Wheels set, some legos, Laser Tag, a basketball hoop and a pool? Also A Duke Sweater…I wanna go to Duke and be like Christian Laettner when I grow up. Also some fun surprises and stocking stuffers. Thanks Santa, say hi to Rudolph for me!
-David

I wore the shit out of that Duke sweatshirt when I was little, I feel shame every day now. I would get the hot wheels set and laser tag, my dad even built a basketball court in the back yard. I realized from a young age that I would just ask for a couple ridiculous things and my parents would drop it like the Russian Judge's score and get me everything else.

Let's see another example from middle school…

Dear Santa, hey buddy, I was REALLLY good this year. Don't listen to my brother, he's a stupid fathead and he cries too much. If it's not too much trouble, I would like the following things this year…

Nintendo 64. Santa, this is non negotiable. If you do not get me this, it will be a bad Christmas, I will take back every single other item and go buy this. (Ed. Wasn't I a little cunt?) I also need Goldeneye and Mario Kart. And maybe Smash Bros too. Also I like the purple kinda see through controller, can I get 4 of those? Also a paintball gun, a BB gun and a lake house on Sweetwater. Also some surprises in my stocking i.e. MP3 player, mini DVD player, and what not. I also need an Iowa Sweater. I want to grow up to be like Brad Banks. Brad Banks is dope.

Best,
David

LOL, asking for a lake house on Sweetwater (Sweetwater was the Geist/Carmel lake house spot…ya even though we lived on a fucking lake we needed an ancillary lake house out of town) and a fucking MP3 player as a stocking stuffer. But I would get my Nintendo and my dad would usually get me like a $400 baseball bat as counter programming. I would be more excited about the Nintendo.

As high school moved along, the letter to Santa would change.

Dear Santa, sup dude, I was super good this year. Don't listen to my brother, he has ADD or something, if you have a spare moment, could you please make sure I get…

15" Subwoofers, do not get me 10's. I want to shake the block and set off car alarms. Also, I want that mirror tint. If you can find the Ron Artest throwback jersey that would be dope. I could probably use a new boom box for my room. Make it one that can burn CDs plz, I need to mass produce my mix tape. Are Air Force Ones still a thing? Get me some 13s…actually 14s, I want the girls at school to think I have a big dick. Also, The Cadillac CTS is really cool. Can I get like a 2004? It's used so it should be cheap.

Peace,
Aryan (my rapper name…my black teacher doesn't like it)

Ahh my wigger phase. I remember it well. No Cadillac for me that year but I did get a $500 Best Buy gift card. That was enough for some 12's and a new speaker system for my room. Also I wore the shit out of that Ron Artest throwback.

College the list became pretty predictable..

Dear Santa, I was good, get me this…

POLO. Seriously if it's not Polo I don't want it. In fact, I only want Polo where the horse is prominently displayed. Do not wrap it and put it under the tree unless it is fucking Polo. Or Lacoste. Or A North Face fleece. So help me God if you get me a regular fleece that isn't Polo I will never come home for Christmas again. I need a Burberry quarter zip too AND Sperry's in every color of the fucking rainbow. Maybe even some rainbow colored Sperry's (no homo) Also, I need you to pay for Spring Break, it's $2000.

Frat frat frat,
David B. Moeller

I get it, I was the worst. But ever since, I've become much more practical. The past few years, I have asked for socks. FUN SOCKS. Because fun socks are the shit. I'm wearing socks with sharks on them right now. Do you know what shark socks say about you?  Shark socks say, 'I like to party, but I'm classy enough that I wear dress socks to work.' I already asked my mom for some Lululemon this year to further my yuppie look. I got kinda shut down. 'I get a great discount on Nike apparel through work.' 5 years ago this would have sent me on a tirade, this year? I just said 'cool.'

The older you get the harder you become to shop for and the harder it becomes to shop for others. For a while I had this trick that I would just buy people tickets to shit that I wanted to go to. "Merry Christmas I got you 2 tickets to the Colts game and you HAVE to take me." The same could go for a concert or play that was in town. This year I think I'm going to do Christmas sweaters for my family, because Christmas sweaters are the shit. Also I can only get my mom so many Yankee Candle/Sephora gift cards.

As for me? I guess it's just easiest if I paste the actual letter I wrote to Santa this year…

Dear Santa,
Hey man, how ya been? Is it snowing up at the North Pole? Some fresh powder for you and the elves to shred? Or is it 80 and sunny like Indiana #globalwarming? Anyway, I'll be honest with you, I've been kind of naughty this year. I didn't pay any of my parking tickets, I drank a lot and generally didn't take the best care of myself. Also, I was kind of a dick to some girls. We would have a thing going and then I would just, POOF and disappear. The kids call it ghosting, it's not that I actively attempt to be an asshole, it's just that adulting is hard.

Anyway, I need you bad this year man. Here is a non-exhaustive list of things that would substantially improve my quality of life.
-An $80,000 a year job that works no more than 40 hours a week, where I could just generally be kinda creative and shit. I have no idea what I can do specifically, but I'm generally pleasant to be around and I think I'm probably funnier than 6 out of 10 random people.

-Like $10,000 cash. I think everyone could significantly improve their situation with a quick 10k.

-UCB 201 classes. Last week at class, I tried to reference that scene from 'Catch me if you can' where Leonardo DiCaprio asks the dude if he concurs. The dipshit intern is like 'the boy told us that it was a bicycle accident.' And then Leo sternly replies SO YOU CONCUR? Anyway, the amateurs in my class totally didn't get the reference. How tf am I supposed to get famous if my classmates can't even quote mid 2000s Spielberg? I need to ascend to the next level.

-A sitcom! It doesn't even need to be a hit. Just get me like 6 episodes. There were 419 scripted tv shows that aired in 2015. Now I'll admit that if I was given the keys to a tv show, there would probably not be Emmys involved. But I am confident I could crack the top 400. It will be super cheap too. Everything would be steadicam and natural lighting. 8 hour days MAX.

-A Soho House membership. My dad says life is about networking. Networking at a social club for creatives is probably more productive than trying to impregnate women on the dance floor at Canal Club.

-A new bike. Some homeless dude stole mine. I'm not drinking for the first few months of 2016. I want to get shredded one last time before I'm 30. I will need a new bike to accomplish this.

-Flight lessons. Do you know how hard it is to quit drinking? If my life depends on it, I will be more likely to accomplish this goal.

-A boat. I don't need my own boat, but if you could pair me up with like 5 other people that requested a boat, we can all share it. See? I'm reasonable.

-You wanna pick up my car insurance for like 6 months? Paying $100 a month just to NOT get arrested seems kinda ridiculous.

-Can you make my hair grow back? I cut it for a girl and now I'm really missing my hair. My hair never complained when I couldn't get it up. It just sat there and chilled.

-See above. Can you give me something to deal with that?

-Fun socks. But they must be Happy Socks brand. Also the 54,000 podcasts I listen to tell me meUndies are comfy. Let's get some of those involved. And Birchbox men. I'm sick of only getting bills in the mail. I used to look forward to checking the mailbox.

-I don't own a black belt. Is this important? I have seven different pairs of flip flops and no black belt, lol Venice.

-Ok Santa, I'm kidding I don't need any of the above. I mean I would take it, but I'm not going to stop believing in you or anything if it doesn't happen. You're the shit man, you've been there for me forever. If you want to give me a little spending money for Tahoe and keep paying my cell phone bill that would be awesome. And fun socks, for real I want some fun socks. But you can get them at Target, they cost about a tenth as much as happy socks and are just as fun.

Have fun with the elves and shit this winter, I'll make sure to make you some cookies, but in lieu of milk I'll give you a white Russian. I know how fucking boring Indiana is, I'm probably going to spend the entire Holiday break getting drunk in the basement and re-enacting classic action movies with my cats. Just throw a pint of Beam in my stocking and we can call it a day.

Thanks dude,
Dave

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The 2011 Fifth Exchange

2006 fifth exchange
Somehow there are still 10 days left until Christmas which seems impossible since I've already been to about 5 Christmas parties, 2 bar crawls, a Secret Santa and watched Home Alone four times.

This past weekend was the annual TBOX/Santacon/SANTA Monica crawl. It's the big bar crawl where all your white friends start doing cocaine around 9am and wear competing Tipsy Elves sweaters that all cost north of $80.

Old people and hipsters alike loathe this annual bacchanalian adventure. This year, just to troll the aging Brooklyn population and prove that gentrification is complete, the Santacon promoter routed their event straight through the heart of Williamsburg. He then even had the lack of fucks to give an interview that behaved as a long dismissive wank to all of his detractors. Conversely, you may have spent the better part of yesterday reading the TBOX (twelve bars of christmas) police blotter! Yay public intoxication and rape!

'Tis the season.

But while everyone else was having a regrettable hook up with a coworker at a holiday party or trying to convince a slutty elf that having sex in the bathroom of O'Brien's isn't THAT big of a deal; I was dabbling in a different tradition…

The Fifth Exchange.

This year marked my 11th fifth exchange.

Four in college, two in Chicago, five in LA.

2008 fifth exchange

Some highlights:

2005: First fifth exchange, someone gets me Mount Gay rum. This is funny because 'gay'

2007: Someone gets me 151, I test the hypothesis that this can be used to breathe fire. It can. I black out and go streaking through the Jewish sorority after serenading them with the Dreidel song.

2008: I get 151 again. But Jake gets Rumplemintz and Paul gets Gold Schlager. Assemble Team See Ya. I get very drunk and nap from 12am-3am. I have a 5am flight to Chicago (from Indianapolis) I get pulled over for erratic driving on the way to the airport. I tell the officer about my early morning flight for a final round interview at CH Robinson. He wishes me luck and offers me a police escort the rest of the way to the airport. I polite decline. While I didn't get a DUI, I also didn't get the job.

2010: Last fifth exchange in Chicago. I pass out in a pile of bushes in mid December after drinking a fifth of Snow Queen vodka. I don't die.

2013: Smolen's last fifth exchange in LA. Someone gets me Mount Gay rum. This is still funny because 'gay'

This year marked the fifth annual west coast fifth exchange. With half of my friends flown to Miami for a fucking Deadmau5 concert, the onus came down to me to host.

For the uninitiated, the fifth exchange is a secret santa that we used to do at my fraternity in college. I have migrated it to every city I have lived post college and the group has grown from only IU phi psis, to only IU people, to whoever wants to come. The 'ceremony' is pretty simple. Everyone brings a fifth of alcohol (that costs under 30 bucks) wrapped and puts it under the tree addressed to a person from Santa. At 8 o'clock someone shouts "GUYS SANTA CAME!" and we run down the stairs to rip open our presents.

We're almost 30.

2013 fifth exchange

Alas, this year's fifth exchange went off without a hitch, but that wasn't always the case. Toss another log on the fire and allow me to share with you the story of the 2011 fifth exchange.

(I'm going to change names to protect the innocent)

It was December of 2011, I had recently moved to Los Angeles and I had exactly five friends. I was living on a mattress pad in an upstairs room of a ten bedroom castle in Encino. Among my roommates were: two Russian lesbians (married) a french couple that spoke no English, and a Pakistani commercial actor. There were other people that came and went, I was never quite sure who lived there. I stayed in my room most of the time watching old BBC shows on Hulu and crying about my ex girlfriend. Some nights someone would knock on my door an ask if I wanted to drink whisky by the pool, but most of the time I was ignored.

I was semi-employed at the time, but it had become very evident that my specific job function was on its way out and it was a matter of time before I was unemployed and alone in Los Angeles, I was ready to give up on my dream before even giving it a chance…but then one wintry morning I got a text message from my friend Ron.

"Guys I'm house sitting my boss's place in Marina Del Rey this weekend. It's super sick and I think we can throw a party."

Previously to moving into the compound off of Mulholland I had been living on Ron's couch, but I had LONG overstayed my welcome, so I was just happy to be invited to do something.

"What if we had fifth exchange there?" Responded Derek, one of Ron's roommates.

"Can I smoke cigarettes and have sex in your boss's bed?" asked Brody.

"No but you can cuddle with his dog." Ron relents.

"In." - Derek

"In." - Brody

"Fuck ya." - Mack

"Yay!" - Me

"Duh." - Ken

The stage was set, we were going to all move into this one bedroom, one bathroom apartment in Marina Del Rey for the weekend and the 6 of us were going to throw ourselves a fifth exchange/Christmas Party. I was stoked.

The morning of December 10th we move into the apartment. The place is magical, located on the third floor of one of Marina Del Rey's sprawling resorts, complete with pools, hot tubs, picnic areas and ocean views. The apartment is decorated to look like the Williams Sonoma winter catalogue. The puppy is even wearing reindeer antlers.

We decide to make the brief jaunt to Venice Beach to watch a morning basketball game at a quaint bar called Nikki's. It would be my first visit to Venice since I had moved to Los Angeles in September, little did I know that this would soon be my home and my bar (or that it would be rudely taken from me years later by the evil corporation Snap Chat.)

We were the only 6 people at the bar watching an unranked Indiana team play against number one Kentucky. Indiana led most of the game before choking away the lead late. Then with only a few seconds left, this happened.

The day was off to a good start.

It's hard to remember the rest of the afternoon. I know at some point we joined up with a Christmas themed bar crawl at Canal Club and somehow we all acquired shitty Christmas sweaters and bottles of booze.

The most dangerous cocktail on the planet.

Cut to, 8pm. We are all back at the MDR apartment and halfway in the bag. Derek has invited 2 of his actor buddies to join us, bringing our grand total to 8. We place the gifts under the tree and someone's girlfriend yells out "Hey guys, Santa came!" We sprint down the stairs and rip open our gifts.

I shit you not, 8 bottles of Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey (remember that shit?) anyway, it was really big in the winter of 2011. This is relevant though because of how easy it was to drink.*

*People forget that there was a very real time between the death of Jagermeister and the rise of Fireball that Jack honey was all the rage. It felt classy because it was a 'premium whisey' but also went down like water, often with disastrous results.

Per tradition, once the presents were unwrapped females were invited over. Given our lack of popularity at the time, I think four showed up, plus one girlfriend that was already there, thus bringing our total to 13. Thirteen people and 8 bottles of Jack honey in a one bedroom apartment is a good time. However, given that we were all still in our early twenties and in peak drinking shape, we were out of booze by 10.

Simple fix, one mile away from our present location was the infamous Venice bar 'The Whaler.' The Marina Del Rey boat parade fireworks were in full swing, the streets were lined with people wandering around in Santa hats, drinking egg nog out of thermoses, it would be great.

We file out of the 3rd floor apartment and see a sign pointing toward the end of the hallway for the stairs, but with a bank of elevators right in front of us, we decided to be lazy.

The elevator is small and 12 people is a tight fit. There is a sticker that clearly states an 8 person max, but we're all drunk and do not care. Plus we are skinny.

Some sort of alarm goes off, but the door eventually closes and we all remark on how cramped we are in the elevator. Had we just casually stood quietly in the elevator for the next 15 seconds, everything would have probably been fine. But of course that is not what happened…

"What if we all jumped at the same time?" - Ken

"Don't do that." - Ron

"Let's try it." - Drunk girl 1

"Wait I want out, I'm taking the stairs." - Ron

"Three…two…" - Ken

"Guys seriously, don't." - Ron

"One." - Ken.

Ten people jump in the air in a tiny elevator at the Mariner's Village apartments and a wrenching crack sounds permeates through the shaft. The elevator grinds to a halt.

"God dammit." - Ron

"Sorry." - Ken

The first two minutes or so are the blame game. Half the people calling Ken a fucking idiot and the other half trying to wrench the doors open to improve the situation.

But in a cramped broken elevator with extreme intoxication, anger quickly turns to panic.

It was minute five when the first girl uttered. "I have to pee."

The first tears were shed at minute eight.

At minute 10 we realized no one had cell phone service and the 'call rescue' button was (maybe) broken.

Totally fucked.

Throughout the first ten minutes Ron stayed relatively calm. As this was his boss's place and he was house sitting we deferred to him to be the person in charge. He also seemed to be the most sober, Ron would get us through this.

"Ok first of all, everyone relax. I've been stuck in an elevator before. The 'call' button isn't lighting up because the light is burnt out. Authorities are probably already on the way. Also this is a massive resort with 24 hour security. There is a man in a command center that sees this elevator is fucked. It will only be a matter of minutes before we are rescued." - Ron

"I can't hold it much longer." - Drunk Girl #1

"We will use the southwest corner as the pee corner." - Ron

"I kinda need to take a shit, which corner is the shit corner." - Brody

"There is no shit corner Brody, hold it." - Ron

For the first 45 minutes, everyone is convinced that Ron is right. Of course luxury apartment complexes have 24 hour security. The Fire Department is just stuck in traffic.

At one hour trapped, Derek began to voice concern.

"I think we need to start yelling for help." - Derek

"That's a bad idea, it will wake up the neighbors and then they will rat me out to my boss and I will get fired." - Ron

"There is a fireworks show going on, no one is sleeping. No one is going to be mad at you for being stuck in an elevator." - Derek

"What if there is a camera in here? And they seen Ken breaking the elevator! And then we are on the hook for paying for this fucking elevator" - Ron

"Guys, Ron is the host, let's listen to him." - Mack

At the moment drunk girl one breaks and pees in the southwest corner. Four people in the elevator are now crying.

"I'll give you 15 minutes." - Derek

At 90 minutes trapped...

"Maybe Derek is right, a lot of people are out and about, I bet they would hear us yelling." - Brody

"And then what will they do when they find our urine soaked elevator?" - Ron

"I dunno, rescue us?" Mack

"What is this, a mutiny? Mack??" - Ron

"Sorry Ron, I'm on team Derek now." - Mack

"Ron, I relieve you of your command. Ken, please take him into custody." - Derek

With that, Ken physically restrains Ron and everyone in the elevator screams bloody murder for rescue.

It was unsuccessful.

At two hours trapped people are starting to lose their shit.

"We're going to die in here." - Mack

"At least be trapped until morning." Ken

"This is all your fault Ken." - Ron

"If we would have started screaming earlier maybe people would have heard us." - Ken

"I REALLY have to take a shit."

Derek's two actor buddies and most of the girls are all huddled in the corner furthest from the pee and kinda half sleeping, half crying like you see a lot of the survivors of a disaster do in the immediate aftermath.

Brody, who has been staring at the doors for a while without talking finally decides to take action. He grasps the interior elevator doors and pulls with all his might to wedge them open. They won't budge.

"Come on guys, help me out."

Mack and Derek help pull, Ken joins in and finally they are able to pry open the door about three inches.

"Someone needs to stick their hand into the elevator shaft with their phone and see if they can get service." - Brody

"No fucking way man, that is some Final Destination shit waiting to happen." - Ken

"I can't fit my hands…" - Derek

"I can…" -Mack

Mack dials 911 and turns on his speaker. He presses dial and then juts his arm into the cavernous shaft.

The phone rings….and rings…

"What the fuck, is it going to go to voicemail?" - Derek

rings…rings….finally, '911, what is your emergency.'

Everyone screams at once. "HEEEEEEEEEELPPPPPPPP"

"Excuse me?"

SHUT THE FUCK UP GUYS.

"We are stuck in an elevator at 4600 via Marina, please we need immediate assistance…"

BEEP BEEP BEEP.

The call drops, Mack looks at his phone. It powers down, dead. No one else can get service, we wait to see if our distress call will be answered.

Three hours trapped…

We have given up at this point. Resigned to our fate. Then a hydraulic noise from behind us breaks the silence. The exterior doors in the shaft jolt open.

"Anyone down there?"

A firefighter is staring down at us.

"I'm going to get you guys out of there ok?"

The LAFD uses the jaws of life to wedge open two sets of doors and pull us from the carnage. Women first and then the men. As the last of our crew climbs out the fireman wrinkles his nose, 'what happened in there?'

Alliances were formed, backs were stabbed. In a word, betrayal.

"You don't want to know man."

A large group of residents had gathered to watch the rescue, all in all a 40 person standing ovation turned to nervous concern when they saw the state of the passengers file back into Ron's boss's apartment.

The door swung open.

"How was the bar guys?" I ask.

No one answers me.

Ah yes, I forgot to mention. I never made it into the elevator, I slept through the whole thing on the couch, I decided I was too drunk to go out. Perhaps the best decision I've ever made in my life.

***

Epilogue…

A faulty sensor in the elevator had to be replaced. The jump had triggered an oversensitive earthquake detector that shuts down an elevator to protect people that could be inside. It was replaced for two dollars.

Ron didn't get fired.

Two months later Ron, Ken, Mack and I moved to Venice which we would make our permanent Los Angeles home.

I never saw drunk girl 1 again. Some things I guess you just can't come back from.

That said we would rally for another fifth exchange in 2012 and it continues to get better each and every year, but we don't really take elevators anymore.

Happy Holidays everyone.

2015 fifth exchange

Thursday, December 3, 2015

To Crawl or not to Crawl


In college I used to SWOT analyze everything because it's funny and I'm a huge douche that wanted to remind everyone I was in the business school. (It was a little hard to get into at Indiana and we all had a massive superiority complex)

I would SWOT where we should go for lunch, I would SWOT whether to hook up with a chick. This is the type of shit that happens at a fraternity house in between dinner and drinking. (Along with guitar hero, FIFA and Risk)

I haven't done a SWOT analysis in a while and I think it's time to bring it back. For the uninitiated a SWOT analysis is a decision making tool using four factors: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. A business might use one when deciding whether to launch a new product or enter a new territory. The strengths and weaknesses represent internal factors whilst the opportunities and threats represent external factors…blah blah blah

Quick example: Portillo's is considering opening a location in Bloomington

S: 
Dopest fucking Italian Beef in the world
Regional Brand awareness

W: 
No existing regional infrastructure
High price point for college campus

O:
Exposure to new market
High demand for fast casual dining on college campus

T:
Extreme existing competition
Expensive beer/alcohol licensing

Reading that extremely brief breakdown you at least get an idea of a few of the considerations Portillo's would look at? In my opinion would they crush it? Of course, the Chicago contingent of Indiana University students alone would keep that place in business.

BUT THIS ARTICLE IS NOT ABOUT ITALIAN BEEF!

Every year, the first Saturday in December the Big Ten bar crawl takes place in Hermosa beach. I take a bus down from Venice, with a bunch of IU homies, it's awesome. Here is a brief history of my performance on the Big Ten bar crawl through the years.

2011: Kicked out of Hennesy's at 2pm. Take a cab back to Hollywood. Leave my phone in cab. It turns up 3 days later in Lancaster. Forced to drive 2 hours and bribe a small black child $80 to get my phone back.

2012: Kicked out of Hennesy's at 2pm. Am dragged to the bus. Vomit on bus. Left in some bushes outside my Venice Apartment. Miss a Passion Pit concert. Wallet mailed to me 2 weeks later.

2013: Kicked out of Hennesy's at 2pm. Uber home. Lose keys. Rent car for a week while waiting for my mom to mail me a back-up pair. Find keys a week later in a closet with my potato cannon and a sack of potatoes. Apparently I got home and wanted to shoot some shit.

2014: Kicked out of Hennesy's at 2pm. Remember nothing else. Wake up a day later in Santa Monica sans credit card. Show up to work and find out that I have charged $200 of shots to the About a Boy Season 1 AMEX. My Chase card surfaces at a Bristol Farms in Santa Monica. I find a Visa Sapphire in my wallet belonging to my neighbor. Apparently there was a misunderstanding with the cards. Chase wipes all charges for the previous 72 hours, About a Boy accountant sweeps my gaffe under the table.

I'm pretty consistently a disaster on the Big Ten Bar Crawl.

I'm getting older, it's becoming less acceptable for me to binge drink before noon on a Saturday. In fact the only real reason for me to go is to meet a bunch of 24 year olds to hang out with so I can feel like less of a professional failure by comparison.

I won't know many people on the bar crawl but it could still be fun. I have a spot on the bus, a ticket to the crawl and even a place to crash in Manhattan if things get out of control. All I have to do is get on the bus…so, is it worth it?

Strengths

If I have one skill it's partying, few people will dispute this. If I have a second it's being a Bro. A day time bar crawl through a bunch of divey beach bars in the frattiest neighborhood in LA is right up my alley.

I crush bar crawls. See last Wednesday. I'm a hero in large organized drinking events.

I crush party busses. I am money in warm lead-ins vs cold. ie. I am much more likely to pull a girl from a pre game than a bar, because everyone at the pre game has a tangential connection. Pregames on wheels are very aggressive, typically whoever shows up with the most outrageous booze is the coolest.

I have an Adderall prescription. This is a massive asset during a heavy day of drinking.

Quick takeaway: Fratty bar crawl with a crazy bus pre game = GOOD FOR DAVE

Weaknesses

I'm alone, so hopelessly alone. I will be the kid at the Ralph's sitting on a case of beer holding way too much liquor hoping someone asks me if I'm also waiting for the Big Ten bar crawl bus. I went on a bar crawl essentially alone last week and spent $300.

I have a track record for getting drunk and losing things. I already have a broken iPhone. Saturday morning I will have a brand new iPhone. Sounds dangerous.

I'm old as fuck (at least for the LA IU party circuit) my body has limitations. Day drinking flattens me for the next 48 hours.

When drunk I have no control of my decisions.

Quick Takeaway: I'm old and my body isn't what it used to be, I also will spend recklessly if I'm not having fun in an attempt to get people to like me. This is detrimental to my wallet.

Opportunities

New blood! My friends are slowing down. No one wants to go on the bar crawl this year, they'll probably go to Home Depot and buy gardening supplies. FUCK GARDENING SUPPLIES! It would be nice to meet some new people that share my disdain for gardening supplies. As they say in the biz, networking is everything.

Fun? It's supposed to be fun right? Drinking and shit talking other big ten schools? Have a crazy day and get some ammunition for a blog post that 400 people will read? That's essentially why I do most of the things I do.

Maybe I'll meet the one! Over a drunken slice of pizza at the Poop Deck! I'll shout something like 'PURDUE IS THE HUFFLEPUFF OF THE BIG TEN!" And this chick playing flip cup will respond "Ha, PURDUE IS A CAMPUS FULL OF MUGGLES!" And it will be love at first sight…or at least a sloppy blow job on an air mattress somewhere, dare to dream.

Quick Takeaway: Bar crawls are typically fun and a successful performance could help me expand my sphere of influence. Maybe there will be a Brobible writer there or something.

Threats

Rejection. Rejection by girls, by guys, by bouncers. I could go on this bar crawl and end up following around 2 or 3 guys I barely kinda know until they pair off with a few chicks and leave me in the dust. One year right before I blacked out after my third Four Loko I remember being kicked out of Baja Sharkeez and being told "I'd had enough." I think my eyes started to water and then the bouncer asked me if I was crying. I made something up. I told him my grandfather had just died, and I came on this bar crawl to cheer myself up. He said he was sorry but I would be a danger to myself and others if he let me back in. That was a low point.

Loss of…everything. I don't often lose things, but this bar crawl has been my achilles heel. If I go on this thing there is an extreme chance something doesn't come out. It's possible I wake up Monday morning with no wallet, no cell phone and an email from my dad titled 'MONEY.' This should be avoided.

I suppose there is always the chance that I'll think it's a good idea to do a pier dive in the middle of December. Drunk people don't swim well and Great Whites like the water a little cooler.

Herpes. Herpes is always a threat.

Quick Takeaway: Any way you slice it, going on this bar crawl is a major risk.
***

Well shit. After spending all day trying to break this down all I've really been able to come up with is that this is a high risk, medium reward proposal.

Of course there are things I could do to mitigate the risk. I could take out $200, leave my cell phone at home. I could go to the DMV and get a California Identification Card (we used to use these as fakes all the time back in the day) and worst case scenario I wake up naked on the beach, at least all of my valuables are safe somewhere.

And here's the thing, anyone I meet, anything I do on the bar crawl. I'm not going to remember. I'll save girls' phone numbers as Laura HOT or JeNebraska and then I'll never text them because what if they're fat, or I called them a cunt and don't remember. Best case scenario I'll have a fun picture on the Hermosa pier that will make a couple midwesterners jealous because it will be snowing where they are.

That picture won't even get that many likes. People don't like when they're jealous.

Also I'm sick right now. This might be a good one. Like the bedridden for 7 days and emerge 7 pounds lighter kind. This paired with my 29 days of sobriety in January, my God, I might look good with my shirt off by Spring Break.

You aren't going to believe this, but I'm making the adult decision to NOT CRAWL. I had my fun, I did four strong crawls. It's someone else's time to shine now. Pregame effectively and remember that American Junkie is the best bathroom for drugs. I have faith in you and I feel OK about passing the party torch to the next generation. I'll still check in on you, I'll be at the Parlor for big basketball games. But this Saturday…I'm sleeping in. I'm finishing Jessica Jones. I'm watching Master of None. I'm cleaning my room, for real like with a vacuum cleaner.

This Saturday I'm choosing to be an adult.

That is unless someone can convince me otherwise...

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Stage 4: Thanksgiving


Thursday morning I didn't wake up in my own bed. This is always distressing, especially when it is comes on the back end of a black out. Where am I? What are the circumstances that led me here? Am I in trouble?

These are the 3 questions that plague me, followed quickly by 'Do I have my wallet, phone and keys?"

On a good day the answers were: Somewhere safe, Partying, no one is mad, I have all of my possessions.

A brief follow up is typically "Did I spend over $300 last night?" But on this particular day, I didn't even check. I had to be at the airport in 2 hours and I was still wearing a Pikachu suit in Manhattan Beach.

I ├╝ber back to my apartment and remember that I was supposed to drop something off at my boss's house, my delayed hangover is kicking in. A onesie bar crawl always sounds like a good idea at the time, but why I chose to do one on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving with a potentially brutal day at the airport ahead of me…your guess is as good as mine. Probably alcoholism.

I only have time for either a shower or to run to my boss's house. I smell like I took a bath in the fermentation room of a brewery so I decide my boss will live without a script. I throw my crumpled excuse for a suit in the dryer with a wet wash cloth and hop in the shower. 15 minutes later I'm off to LAX with a stand-by ticket to Sacramento, a hope and a prayer.

I arrive at LAX at around 10am with plenty of time to make the flight at 11. I cruise through security, waltz right up to gate 51 and inform the agent I would like to get on the next flight to Sacramento.

"Cool, there are 10 open seats, you're totally going to make it."

Great, run to the bar, crush two IPAs and then come back to claim my boarding pass.

"Sorry, the flight is full."

What happened to the 10 seats?

"People with status had the same idea you had, they clear before you."

This is understandable. Flying standby is a bit of a risk. I'm a bit annoyed because I could have taken a nap, I could have run a couple errands, but whatever. The beer is cold at the Rock and Brew.

"What's up with the 1 o clock flight? I REALLY want on that one, can I just maybe upgrade to a first class ticket?"

"Oh, don't do that, there are 20 seats available."

Ok fine, I'll just head to the bar for a couple hours. I drink myself a 6-pack while discussing the Captain America: Civil War trailer with a few nerds. You can guess what happens next. I don't get on the 1 o clock flight, I don't get on the 3pm flight. I get on the 5:15 flight.

Being stuck in an airport for 9 hours isn't ideal no matter how much beer you're allowed to drink. The one saving grace for me was that when I did land in Sacramento I realized it was one of the few airports that hadn't banned Uber.

Small win.

I thought.

I get in my Uber to Granite Bay (45 minute drive) and my cabbie asks me how my day is going.

"It's about to get better"

"Why is that?"

"I just texted my friends, they said they have five shots of whiskey lined up for me."

The cab goes dark, I'm a bit surprised, that's a funny light hearted joke. Why isn't she laughing.

"I really wish you wouldn't have said that…"

Uh oh.

"Today is my five month anniversary in recovery and I'm really struggling."

Oh God.

"But maybe you getting in the car and saying you are having 5 shots…"

No, no no….

"…on my 5 month anniversary is the universe telling me something."

NOPE NOPE NOPE!

"I was just kidding, they didn't even text me that, I was just trying to make you laugh!"

"The fact that you even brought it up though, it's fate, don't you know? I'm having a shitty week, I lost custody of my daughter to her dead beat dad, I'm down 5 grad at the casino. This is going to turn it all around."

"NO DEAR GOD, THE UNIVERSE IS TESTING YOU."

We finally pull up to my friend's house in Wexford Estates and she won't shut up about the size of the homes.

"I'm going to the casino tonight and I'm going to drink and win enough money to buy one of these homes."

"Christ, at least stick to beer."

I'm digging into my bag as we pull up to casa de bird when my driver reminds me to give her 5 stars for the ride.

"Just promise you won't end up in a body bag tonight and I'll give you as many stars as you want."

And that's the story of how I enabled an addict.
***
I don't even make it inside of the house when I see all of my friends in an ambulance.

"Is this like the one you escaped from in Italy? Get up here, we're doing shots of morphine."

They weren't but I wouldn't have been surprised if they were.

"Here are your five shots. It's conveniently been placed in a water bottle. You can't leave the ambulance until you finish it."

Ugh. I want to go home.

By the time I make it into "Thanksgiving dinner" it's about 8 o clock, the table has been cleared and there is a small late plate in the corner with my name on it. People are already playing beer pong in the garage. It felt like coming home to the frat house after a long day of midterms.

Before I could even finish my turkey I was whisked into the garage to play beer pong/flip cup/civil war. Guys were kind of finishing getting ready while casually playing. Someone was fiddling with a speaker, trying to get it to project his newest sound cloud mix. One of my homies was handing out vivance while giving status updates on when the chicks would be arriving.

Oh my god. My Thanksgiving is a frat party.

I spent about 4 hours on the beer pong table, usually a game I hate, but we added a new wrinkle called the Charlie Sheen rule.

American Beer Pong rules 64a-8
If at any time in the game a ball deflects in the air off of a cup, the receiving team can set the ball in the air to his or her teammate who can in turn spike the ball toward the other team while yelling 'Charlie Sheen.' If the spike strikes the opponent, they will drink a beer. If the opponent catches the ball, the spiking team will drink a beer.

The Charlie Sheen rule is why I blacked out and didn't make it to the annual 2am leftovers celebration 'Thanksgiving Dos.'

Instead I woke up at 6am in the movie theater room with a cat on my face. I quickly ran outside into a neighbor's yard and vomited for 20 minutes into a bush. Sorry random neighbor.

Anyway, top three hangover of my life. I took four showers that morning and more than once contemplated overdosing on the cat's feline AIDS medication. My symptoms began to subside around 3pm, my friends brought me a plate of sashimi, shock tarts and some cold beer.

"That's like $200 worth of sashimi Moelman, wake the fuck up!"

An Iowa win and the Shock tarts sorta brought me back to life enough to roll into the car for the trip to SF, a four hour slog through nightmarish traffic. By the time we arrived at the Sheraton Marina I was ready to cuddle up on my floor spot (oh ya…5 grown men sharing 2 double beds, the 6'3 guy gets the floor) and call it a night.

Of course my plan was foiled.

We spent the better part of an hour arguing about where to go to dinner and how much we wanted to spend. But while my friends argued about whether we should get steak or seafood, I skipped straight to the nightlife section of Yelp. A friend had told me about a place called Bar None that she described as 'very bro friendly.' TO THE INTERWEBS!

Oh, two stars…very promising start. Let's see what AMY T thought about Bar None

UMMMM SOOOOO I really like this bar LOL. It's definitely a throwback to those college days, which I mean, I'm not complaining. It's like a giant frat party. If you're not into that scene, then this place probably isn't for you. But it brings me back to my college days (maybe because I was in a fraternity..LOL). 
Tables in the back for drinking games. Guys, RAGE CAGE. rage cage is a lifestyle, not a game.

That's a good start. I'm pretty sure Rage Cage is what some people call You Got Served (ping pong ball speed quarters) but I'm more impressed by the 1 star reviews. Let's check those.

Michael C offers…

Packed & full of D-bags that wish they were still in college to enjoy the frat parties. 
Check.

Armanius M suggests…
Trashy place for trashy clientele. What a dump. Obnoxious crowd of 30 year old wanna be college students. Bad service. Bad beer. Bad bouncers. If you want a loud place where the collective IQ is likely about 90, this is the place to go. Otherwise, there are much better bars than this. Not recommended at all. 
Double check.

Finally Ashley Z eloquently adds…
ah. The gateway to hell.... your official blvd of broken dreams.. This place really gives Union Street its best name.Frat row.. step right up. Place your best bets who will puke first...If you are looking for a Herpes free evening.. this isn't your place
Sold.

We settled on a surf and turf meal at Boboquivari's (Bobo's) two bottles of fine Sonoma Zinfandel along with petter filets and three pounds of crab legs felt like a fitting way to juxtapose the debauchery lurking for us around the corner.

After dinner we were all full and tired, also frighteningly sober. We decide to walk the 5 blocks to Bar None (MISTAKE) only to be sweating from SF's unnecessary mountainous hills by the time we arrived at our destination.

We walked in and the place was dead, a frightening fact since it was already midnight, a paltry two hours before close. We were about to give up when a small sign in the corner caught my eye. $2 beers, $3 whiskey shots, $4 Jagerbombs…

Now I'll be the first to admit that I'm happy that Jager suffered a quick death after college. I was so sick of that shit by the time that I turned 22, I thought I would be happy never to see it again. But $4? In a major city? At midnight at a bar where we knew no one?

"We'll take 5." <--- a="" during="" many="" night.="" p="" phrase="" repeated="" that="" the="" times="" was="">
After 5 rounds or so, the flood gates opened. It was like every SF kid that was home for the holidays knew that if they wanted to get laid they should go to Bar None around 1230 on Friday. My buddy pulls out his wallet to pay for a round and a curious bag falls out of his wallet innocently to the floor.

"Oh my God, I FLEW with that?"

"The universe is telling us to go the bathroom right now."

We met several like minded individuals in there.

Cut to: We've met some Marines and a bunch of British chicks. Our round of 5 shots for $20 has turned into 12 shots for about $50, still miles cheaper than any round I've bought in Los Angeles in the past 5 years. Somehow one of my buddies is now behind the bar making out with our bartender and one of the British chicks that looks like Adele before she lost weight is sucking on my neck?

The lights flash on, it's 2am. My group orders two ubers, one is going to the Sheraton, meanwhile the Marines are leading a charge to Chinatown for rub and tugs.

Mercifully, I end up at the Sheraton and somehow I have stolen a bottle of Fireball from the bar. I decide to take a shower for some reason. I always enjoy a good drunk shower, but there was an open bed for the taking. Instead I wake up at 5 in the morning in the bath tub, wearing the SPG rewards member Sheraton bath robe.

LPT: Sign up for SPG rewards, you get a courtesy 4pm check out. Great when you have a night of excess with your bros.

It's Saturday, half of our crew has left for Los Angeles already. I have a flight to LA but it's based out of Sacramento. I'm keen to get there early so I can just end my weekend and hop in bed to cry myself to sleep and pray away my sins.

WAS NOT TO BE.

One more epic lunch at Yank Sing I'm told…Michelin quality dim sum, whatever the fuck that means. I'll tell you what it means, after waiting 2 hours for our table and a botched take-out order we had 90 minutes to get from downtown SF to the Sacramento airport.

My life was flashing before my eyes, I was positive that if forced to spend one more minute with this crew my liver would shut down.

I made it, just barely…but at some point during this binge, my phone had stopped working. Upon landing at LAX instead of ubering home, I had to walk about 3 miles to a neighborhood in Westchester that I had stashed my car. I imagine the trail of tears was only slightly more depressing.

I get to my car, load up on $15 of Del Taco and set my sights for my happy place: my couch.

I fell asleep on the couch Saturday night at 8pm, I woke up on the couch Monday morning at 1am. I had missed an entire day. It was incredible.

I dragged my ass into work Monday morning with a broken phone and a bag full of lies.

"Thanksgiving was really relaxing. I spent time with family and watched football."

There was not a single moment of relaxation. It was taxing my ability to party. I'm spiraling out of control, I am literally in a flat spin out to sea with no safe ending in sight. At the moment I am a stage 4 degenerate and we all know, there is no stage 5.

But I have a feeling if I take a few deep breaths, eat a couple salads and maybe go to the gym this week…who knows, I could be ready for the Big Ten bar crawl on Saturday. We'll call me questionable, but coach thinks I have a good chance to play. Because life is a story and when it's all over, I'll have a good one. Five years from now I won't remember how hungover I was all weekend, I'll remember the love and memories I shared with my buddies, and that's what I'm thankful for.