Friday, April 28, 2017
It's been a very busy week here at Universal Studios. I watched all of Red Oaks, I wrote my Love spec, hell I even had time to read a book about Hillary Clinton's doomed campaign.
And while none of those things are technically in my job description, I came into the office today convinced that I had deserved a nice easy day of looking at Reddit and laughing at meme accounts on Twitter. But then I got the text...
"Did you hear that the pier concerts are cancelled?"
Let me back up a bit.
I am an underachiever.
I probably outscored you on the SATs, I was born with a near perfect body composition and my socioeconomic status is better than most.
It was said that George W Bush was born on third base and thought he hit a triple. Well I was born on second and then immediately got picked off.
I'm a 6 foot 3 white male with gorgeous hair, yet I have failed to get ahead in life mostly because of my lack of passion. While others cared about things like social justice, making the world a better place; my chief concern has always been where to meet people for happy hour. That is to say until my favorite thing in the world was in danger of being taken away from me.
In a March 28th post. entitled The Day I Became a Democrat I addressed the ongoing battle at City Hall about the future of the Twilight Concert Series. At the time some in the Santa Monica City Council found the concert too expensive for the total benefits it was contributing to the city. This post netted me 7 likes, one Marine calling me a cuck and an email from my father telling me I use the F word too often.
Shortly thereafter it was revealed that the council had greenlit the summer series for 8 instead of the usual 10 shows. Between that and privatized security vs actual police there was to be enough savings for the city that the concert series (subsidized by partners such as Snap Chat and KCRW) would become fiscally sustainable.
And that was the end, so I thought...
In the days that passed I would scour the internet for little hints and clues as to who the artists might be this year. Would we get some up and comers, nostalgia acts or bands that were just about to peak. A few days ago the first bread crumb arrived in a Bandsintown page for teenage sensation Khalid.
June 22nd, 2017 Santa Monica Pier 7pm.
Everything checked out. My prior research had told me that the concerts would be starting in June this season. One of the ways Santa Monica thought they could mitigate attendance was move the schedule forward, out of the late August early September high tourism season.
A day later a Facebook page for the event popped up. I thought we would be seeing an official schedule any day...
and then I got the text.
"Did you hear the pier concerts are cancelled?"
FAKE NEWS I immediately thought to myself. In one of my extremely rare instances of actual journalism, I had studied this case. Scaled down? Sure. Safe in the future? Definitely not! But this year? No Twilight Series 2017 was a go.
"No, it was money stuff, but they worked it out," I nonchalantly replied as if I was a cool kid in the know.
"Oh? I heard it was bomb threats."
Bomb threats? I hadn't heard of any bomb threats? Sure I had always thought deep in the twisted recesses of my mind that a well placed frag grenade on a Thursday night could take out a fuck load of drunks but I had never heard any actual rumors to this point. As my friend works at Red Bull (a cooler company than Universal) I decided to take her claim seriously and began to do some research.
My first stop was the Twittersphere. It seems I wasn't the only one who had discovered the show as a few people were already talking about it.
Now clearly you and I know that these shows can't sell out. Why would they be under the impression that 'tickets' were no longer available.
I decided best to check the original Bandsintown and Facebook pages for more info...
Upon my Google search, things seemed to be exactly as they had been the day before.
I reached out to several sources for comments: The Santa Monica Pier, Snap Chat, The Santa Monica Daily Post, Khalid himself.
I texted a confidential source inside of Snap Chat and she said she hadn't heard anything about a cancellation. No one on Twitter seems to have heard of a cancellation. So perhaps Khalid (who is performing at Staples Center on June 23rd as part of The BET Experience just cancelled his show with zero explanation...just scrubbed it from the web as if it never existed.
Or perhaps, there are more sinister things at play. Perhaps, a city council that never wanted a party in their backyard figured out a way to get rid of it, because sure you can wave a balance sheet in someone's face, but if you really want people to get up in arms the quickest way to do that? Safety.
Now I do not know for a fact that the Pier Concerts are dead. I don't feel some sort of journalistic imperative to wait for all the facts. This is by the way a blog that frequently discusses how many shots of vodka I take on a Saturday night. But if I was a betting man and I had to handicap this pier concert season? Well sadly my friends, I would lay the under.
Friday, April 21, 2017
You're turning 30.
Congratulations. You made it three decades without dying. It may seem a low bar to survive this long, but in an era of texting and driving, designer drugs and the loaded taco burrito, I personally find it impressive that you made it this far.
However, your most important task now awaits you: planning a bangin' 30th bday party.
Now right out of the gate let me tell you a few things that people might be afraid to tell you.
No one wants to come to your birthday party.
I'm sorry. It's not because you are unpopular. It's not because you never accepted that 5 dollar Venmo request to split a valet parking charge in 2015. It is because, in fact birthday parties suck.
It's true. Birthdays have become some sort of societal obligation thrust upon us where we are expected to inconvenience ourselves because of a rather arbitrary event. I throw a shit fit if someone gets married on a Friday or Sunday (GET MARRIED ON SATURDAY YOU POORS) and a wedding happens just once! Imagine my wrath that once a year my friends can seemingly enslave me to their will.
Furthermore, most well adjusted adults have at least 50 acquaintances which means that these birthday shindigs become a weekly occurrence, occupying time that I would much rather spend doing almost anything but sitting in a bar conversing with one of your work friends. If I had a dollar for every horrible birthday party I went to in WeHo in my 20's, I would have more than enough money to buy a .38 special at a pawn shop and blow my brains out.
But it doesn't have to be this way...
No you can throw yourself a fun birthday party. You can have an event that people will be excited about. You can make people jealous! And you can do it all without breaking the bank. Follow this handy guide and I promise that you will be able to throw yourself an epic party and not earn the lifelong resentment of your so-called friends.
Part 1. The Planning
If you think that you won't be planning your own birthday party, you've been watching too much reality TV. Sure, it would be nice if your significant other did some of the heavy lifting because if you are directly antagonizing people about your upcoming event you may come off as a bit of a self-centered sociopath...but the one thing to remember is that your birthday gives you some degree of leverage.
Perhaps there is something you have wanted to do for a long time but people are only about halfway committed. Your birthday is an excuse to push this over the top. You want to go skydiving for your bday? Send an email on dates, cost and travel arrangements. Boom you're done. Want to go on a trip? Prep a budget and email it to your confidants and ask for approval. You'll get it. Planning a birthday party is remarkably similar to planning a bachelor/bachelorette party. It just so happens to be co-ed. The best way to communicate with people is a simple email chain or a (gasp!) Facebook group. Also a good way to lock people in? Come up with some sort of bullshit deposit. 'Uhhhh the party bus needs 10 dollars a head NOW.' Studies show that people get 70%* more excited about something the moment they make any financial commitment.
*I made that stat up.
-Keep it small-ish. As nice as it would be to invite your Costume PA's boyfriend to your little bash, the truth is he doesn't give a shit about you and honestly you are just interrupting his Friday night 13 Reasons Why binge. While a bigger wedding might always be more fun, the same is not the case for a birthday party and the reason is venue. Unless you live in a 12 bedroom house in the Hollywood hills, your 'big birthday party' is going to be a 'HEY! MEET US AT ______.'
True story: No one has ever had fun at 'HEY! MEET US AT _____.'
Aside from the obvious fact that there are 7 birthday parties going on that night at 7 different bars, none of the groups of people you invite to your bar birthday will know each other and/or interact. It will look like a middle school dance: the work friends are over by the bar, the college friends are scoping out the dance floor. The neighbors are trying to track down a food menu and the friends who flew in from out of town just feel out of place.
Also just think of the inherent panic you feel when you realize you have been drinking all day at Big Dean's and you need to go home and shower so you can Uber to Silverlake for a coworker's party. OMG do I stop and get a card? A gift? Can I bring someone? UNSUBSCRIBE!
It's horrible. It's almost as bad as 'the restaurant birthday.' Oh you know a bunch of yuppies hanging out at a restaurant they can't really afford, pretending to adult, lol this is so fun. Then there is the boisterous guy who keeps ordering $200 bottles of wine. "Don't worry we'll split it," he says as he drunkenly offers a toast.
HAVE FUN PAYING THAT BILL!
So if we are going to shy away from a dinner or a bar, what are some fun venue options?
I'm glad you asked.
Part 2: The Venue
Ballin' on a budget: Dinner Party
I know what you're thinking. Dinner parties are lame. I'm inclined to agree with you. But consider this. Maybe you aren't big on birthday celebrations, you think they are stupid (I agree!) so you just gather the people that you would be spending your night with anyway and cash 14 bottles of 10 dollar wine, eat some tri tip and call it a day. Maybe you smoke a joint afterward. Maybe something harder! Perhaps all you want on your special day is to be surrounded by your 10 or so closest friends on a relaxing night at your house. This is a completely defensible position.
Maybe you play some Cards Against Humanity or that new Telephone Pictionary game. That game is fun! This party costs everyone precisely 17 dollars and people wake up without feeling morally bankrupt, 10 years out of college I consider both of those a win.
Ok but it IS my 30th: Rent a house
Maybe heavy wine and light apps at your Santa Monica 2 bedroom apartment just doesn't cut it for a milestone such as thirty. Well why just visit there when you can live there? Welcome to Casa Chill bitches! I must say, of the 30 houses I have stayed in Palm Springs, Casa Chill looks pretty middle of the road, but extra points for branding. I mean The Ultimate Palm Springs Experience looks like a better house AND it's walking distance to the Ace. It's even cheaper! But Ultimate Palm Springs Experience just doesn't roll of the tongue like Casa Chill.
Anyway, throwing a bunch of friends in a big ass house with a pool is always a good time. Bonus points if there is an outdoor speaker set up so you can pump old school Bieber hits while chugging Keystones.
The best part of all of this? It's extraordinarily cheap. For about the cost of a round of shots you can book a weekend a couple hours away with your best friends in the world. Casa Chill would be $70 a head, and the inflatable swan that you will want to float on all weekend can be purchased at Target for about 5 bucks.
I'm feeling adventurous: Camping
Fun fact: There are 9 National Parks in California. 6 of them are within a four hour drive of Los Angeles.
What better way to celebrate the entry into actual adulthood than posting a picture at a waterfall with 'ALL WHO WANDER ARE NOT LOST." (*Puke*)
But for real, National Parks (and camping) are dope. Also I've learned in the past year that camping is actually just 90% an excuse to drink outdoors and play with axes and stuff. You haven't lived until you've indulged some THC tea and thrown hatchets at Joshua Trees.
Ever wanted to get a little weird and howl at the moon on a clear night? Same. It's awesome. Camping is also relatively cheap and it's something you can tell your parents/coworkers about without sounding like a degenerate. (You tell them about the hikes, not about the abandoned tennis court you found while you were tripping sack)
I have money, I'm going big: Go on a trip
The Millenials have spoken and what they have said is "We don't want stuff." So while this may be bad news to auto manufacturers, the housing industry and big box retailers, it's good for the person selling their friends on vacation. I think when growing up I went on maybe 2 vacations a year. We would go to Florida twice, once for Spring Break, once for Christmas Break. In my 20's I probably averaged about 10 vacations a year...on a production assistant salary.
All this said, it won't be as hard as you think to get people to go to Vegas.
Speaking of which: Go to Vegas.
It costs about $120 to fly roundtrip to Vegas. Planet Hollywood will GLADLY give you a room for $40 a night. If you mule it with a car, the price gets even cheaper. While you may be thinking that we're getting too old to squeeze 12 people in a single hotel room, I assure you that it is still a good time.
Not a big gambler? Who cares? I went to Britney Spears for my 30th and I still have the best 30th birthday on record. NO ONE DENIES THIS. She's ending her tour soon so you can't be as cool as me, but you can get fairly cheap GA to any second tier pool party or you can spend 1000 dollars on a table at Hakkasan. Vegas is really a choose your own adventure. You can wander the strip drinking 40s the whole time or you can wander over to a gun range and shoot a rocket launcher.
But why stop at Vegas?
Go to New Orleans, go on a ski trip, go surfing in Baja, go boating in San Diego, throw a dart at a map and go on an adventure.
Part 3: The Execution
Ok so against all odds you got 10 people to come with you on your adventure. Your friend from grad school flaked last minute because her fiance is having surgery but that's ok because you didn't want them to know that you do drugs anyway. It's vitally important to send out a couple fun reminders during the week to retain engagement. Maybe you put together a fun guide, maybe you establish an MVP award and then handicap it. If you make someone the odds on favorite for an MVP award you then put extreme pressure on them to perform at your birthday party? If you make someone a long shot to be the MVP they go to enormous lengths to prove you wrong.
OMG I KNOW I'M A MAD GENIUS.
And just remember no one gives a f*ck about your birthday. They didn't come as some great service to you, they came because they thought they would have fun independent of your celebration. If they REALLY hated Yosemite, they would have invented a work conflict or something. So just be happy that everyone is there, together, having fun. And don't do anything so stupid that will prevent you from doing this again in 365 days. Because as LAME as birthdays are, it's just another one of the billion excuses to get with friends, celebrate life and make some bad decisions.
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
I've been restless.
It's been almost a year since my solo trip to Copenhagen in which I hung out with a bunch of Scots, partied with high school kids and went to Tivoli Gardens with Adele.
I've shown remarkable restraint in passing up a $220 round trip flight to Colombia and a $264 round trip flight to Iceland primarily because I don't want to send my father to an early grave. (He thinks it is irresponsible to jet set across the world when you don't have things like "a job" or a "steady income.")
But thanks to my new Disney gig starting next month I will for the first time in my life have some sort of disposable income. So the question is 'where to go?'
And so it was that on a Saturday night in mid April I found myself at a familiar bar in Venice. I was drinking over priced beers and taking shots of well whisky to help overcome my inherent fear of talking to girls. There may or may not have been controlled substances involved.
Somewhere in the desert there were kids taking selfies in a tent, kissing strangers, living their best lives while I was standing in a corner at the fish taco place from 'I Love You Man.' So maybe this FOMO slightly played into what happened next.
'So I think I'm going to sell the burning man tickets.'
I snapped out of my funk.
"What Burning Man tickets?"
'I told you last week I was trying to get them.'
"I try to do a lot of things, but I usually fail."
'Well no, I have two.'
And that was the moment I decided that I was going to take my next trip to a fake temporary city in Nevada with no prior experience and no idea what the hell I am doing.
I can't wait.
To be honest, I don't even really know what Burning Man is all about. On first glance it seems to be full of all of the types of people I hate. People who believe in energies and say things like 'performance art' with no trace of irony. These are the people who follow a religion of 'good vibes' and astrology. There is no concept of reality or of consequence.
I think of it as a lawless oasis of hedonism that I simply must investigate before I die.
I have heard of Burning Man described most simply as a social experiment. Something that begs the question 'What happens when you put thousands of strangers in a desert for a week and remove all social obstructions?' I guess I will find out.
Now I don't have a camp, I have zero supplies and I don't even really have that many good friends I can go to for advice. I have some basic camping gear, a bunch of bro tanks and a general idea what it takes to survive for 5 days in grueling heat.
If I had to leave today I would probably take a backpack full of clothes, 30 gallons of water, 3 gallons of vodka, 150 beers, a tent, a shitty bike, 75 PB and Js and something to barter.
I would pitch my tent wherever I'm told to and ya I dunno, start uh, investigating?
To reiterate I have zero clue what I am doing. I don't know if there are showers, how much sun screen I will need, if I need a gas mask, whether to bring flash tats. Is it kosher to just walk into someone's camp and strike up a conversation? If someone wants to trade me a little trinket for like 6 beers is it rude to say no? Where do I go to the bathroom? Is there cell phone service? I've seen photos of naked people, am I expected to be naked? Is there a Samsung tent with air conditioning?
I'm not a super bad ass, but I have a feeling I'll be OK. If Fortune 500 CEOs can survive burning man, I'm pretty sure I can. I mean I went on a 27 mile hike once. That has to count for something. Right?
So here is the deal, if you have ever been please send me advice. I would love to connect with you friends that are going. I would love to read a guide that your sister wrote. If you're planning on going, I would love to meet up with you. I don't have extra tickets, we don't have room in our car but I do a positive attitude and an itch for adventure.
Honestly part of me thinks this is a terrible mistake. I should spend a week in Thailand getting 2 dollar massages. I should hike Machu Picchu, yet I'm going all in on a hippie filled desert in rural Nevada. Call it research, call it Venice getting the better of me. Hell maybe I just want to have a trump card when I'm old to prove that I was cool once.
But whatever my reasons are...I'm going, and I'm way in over my head.
I have 18 weeks to figure this out, but then again I filed my taxes at 11:56pm last night, so help me...please.
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
I'm not going to Coachella.
Let's just get that out there right away.
The line up blows, I don't have a ton of friends going and there are a million other things I could do this weekend.
Besides, this is Fast 8 weekend. I need to figure out the Fate of the Furious. I need to watch the first 7 films the next 3 nights and then go see what made Dom betray his family.
In fact this is a conversation I had with an actual Marketing Exec at Universal.
"WHAT MADE DOM BETRAY HIS FAMILY???"
- Lol, hey Moeller! I can't tell you!!!
"Fine, I want tickets to the premiere."
"Ok, I'll settle for a pre release employee screening."
"DOES BRYAN CAMEO?"
User has blocked you.
And let's say I don't feel the need to see Fast 8 and additional 12 times in theaters after I check it out once. What then? Does my weekend magically open up?
It's a holiday weekend. A holy holiday weekend. I should go celebrate the birth of Christ.
Can you imagine how much good will I could generate with my family if I pick my brother up Sunday morning and take him to church and then a brunch?
I'm quite certain my father would buy me a new car if I did this.
So that covers Friday and Sunday...leaving Saturday.
Saturday I may have to work. I could earn both a 6th day (1.5x) and a holiday day (2x) that would be like A LOT of money. I could pay my taxes with that money. I could fix my car with that money.
Let's just say for the sake of argument, my boss lets me off the hook. I go see Fast 8 and I'm so jacked up with adrenaline that I can't sleep and suddenly its 9 o clock in the morning on Saturday.
What if I just started driving east.
Past the IE...
Past Palm Springs and Joshua tree...
and suddenly find myself in Indio.
Oh shit, there is a little music festival going on here? I don't have tickets. I don't have a place to stay, but hey, it's a beautiful day...perhaps I'll wander around for a bit.
I still know the general direction to the Heineken house, I know a couple people that rented houses. Maybe I just sent a few exploratory texts seeing if anyone wants to crack a couple beers BEFORE they head to the festival.
I mean worst case scenario I have a few drinks at a dope house, take a dip in the pool and then make the 45 minute drive back to J tree and do some back country camping. Hell I'll even show up to this pregame with a giant half gallon of Bulleit.
Of course people will leave in waves. Someone will just HAVE to get there at 4 for Chicano Batman, whatever the fuck that is. But there will be some people that stay, because honestly when you rent a rad house at Coachella you never want to get up and go into the festival.
People will trail out until it's just me and a few guys and I will realize that I am now far too drunk to drive back to Joshua Tree so I will likely be sleeping in my car in a La Quinta neighborhood.
But then it happens...
"Hey man, you wanna come with?"
Oh no thanks, I don't have a ticket.
"No I mean we have an extra, my girlfriend passed out, she played too many rounds of Flip Cup and she's down for the count. I could like slip her wristband off and give it to you. Just make sure to give it back."
So now I'm walking down the Molly trail of tears with some guys I just met and bonded with over a game of Louisville Chugger. This is awesome! It's 8:45 and I'm going to make it to Martin Garrix, followed by DJ Snake and Lady Gaga.
It's entirely possible that at this point my two new friends get pinched at security for trying to sneak in drugs but they beckon me to go enjoy the show anyway.
Now all alone and with a dead cell phone I wander aimlessly around the drones of inebriated yuppies desperately looking for someone I know.
The it happens.
Some girl who is clearly on hallucinogens starts grabbing my hair.
"Are you an angel?"
-No, just some lonely guy who lost his friends.
"We're your friends now."
She drags me to the Do-Lab. I don't see Martin Garrix, DJ Snake or Lady Gaga, but I do listen to deep house and have water guns shot at me for three hours. At some point angel girl puts something in my mouth. I don't ask because I would prefer not to know, but also I want to believe in angels.
The lights go on. The music cuts out. I stop floating and slowly return back to Earth.
I realize I have no idea how to get back to my car and I have no place to stay.
Angel girl is rubbing my head and seems to read my thoughts.
"We're sleeping in the hammock tonight."
I make the trek to the campground where the silent disco is just starting to fire up. People are dancing on cars and a 50 year old man tosses me a beer just because.
For the second night in a row I get no sleep because of a different type of adrenaline.
In the morning I find my bearings and am able to walk back to the house and find my car.
The girl that passed out the night before is in the yard already hiding Easter eggs.
"There you are! How was it?"
-It was great, thanks for the wristband!
I slip it off and return it to her.
"Are you staying for the Easter egg hunt?"
I have to head back unfortunately, but what a night.
I smile at her as I drive off. I return to the west side at 4:30 with just enough time to scoop my brother and make it to the 5 o clock mass at St. Monica.
I sing the songs and chant 'Christ is risen indeed.' I fantasize about my bed.
Somewhere there are kids playing rage cage, but I am merely sitting in church wearing flash tats while parishioners silently judge me.
Church ends, I drop my brother off, I drive home and sink into my bed. There is laundry that needs to be done, there are dirty dishes, I am in need of a shower, but I just close my eyes and smile as another Coachella weekend has come to a close.
That is what COULD happen this weekend...or maybe I'll just sleep in. I dunno.
Monday, April 10, 2017
I'm laying on the ground panting. I just got my ass kicked in basketball by a bunch of 22 year olds. My friend Matt has a black eye, I have a sprained ankle and a bunch of kids born after Toy Story came out are laughing at me.
One of the young bucks throws me a beer and some keys then does an extended cheers about having sex or something. I beat all the young kids at the beer chug, at least I'm still good at something.
"I don't know if it's going to last." Pipes in one of the children.
We had just run to the grocery store and bought 10 cases of Coors Light.
"There are 10 of us, and you have to assume we are each going to drink 25 beers. That only leaves 50 beers for the rest of the guests."
I should set the scene a bit. I am in Granite Bay, California for my friend's annual Seder dinner. I'm still not entirely sure what Seder is, but I know it has to do with Passover, which is somehow connected to Easter. It seems that these holidays would be treated with reverence and seriousness.
Not in this household.
Last Tuesday I was sent a picture of Gordon Gekko from the movie Wall Street.
"This year's Seder theme."
Past themes have included Hawaiian shirts, tuxedos; hell I had to dress up as a duck one year,
To call this family progressive would be a bit of an understatement. Not only do I find myself wearing blue suspenders, and slicking back my hair like a bad Barry Melrose impersonator, I also have been appointed the Special Effects coordinator of the weekend.
In my case, that means I am manning the smoke machine.
Yes, we have a industrial sized fog machine at a religious dinner.
During the pregame board meeting (Paul's dad, brothers, sister and everyone's friends) lock themselves in the movie theater and go over the schedule of events. It's essentially like a television production meeting except everyone is ripping shots and no one is allowed to leave until they have had at least five.
I was primarily focused on the drinking element of the board meeting as my job seemed simple enough, 'hit the button.' But when I was paying attention I remember people discussing speeches, dramatic skits and of course a grand finale that called for gas and fire. The fact that we were all approaching black out status didn't concern anyone because we had a real life firefighter with us.
It should be noted that he was the only one opposed to an open flame.
After a case of 5 hour energy was presented to all of the members of the board, we did one more shotgun and made our way to the dining room where there was a full bottle of red wine in front of every place setting.
Now it was my time to shine. I filled that room with so much smoke that a skittish elderly man started shouting 'fire!' I'm not sure if this indicates that I was an excellent or terrible special effects supervisor.
From the smoke, our friend Dave emerged, doing a full WWE style entrance to the song 'Born in the USA.' Dave is a firefighter and former Marine that was blown up by a roadside bomb in Iraq. Now he kicks off every Seder with an electric guitar performance of The National Anthem.
Everyone stands and chants his name for 3 minutes after the performance and now it's time for the dinner to begin.
There are a few greetings and then we begin reading from the Seder book. I'm sure it has a cool Jewish name, but it's essentially the story of Moses. At some point in the story a person enters the room dressed as the evil pharaoh. He is of course loudly booed. In fact someone even throws a beer at him.
Paul's sister Liat and his mother Anat, now dressed in Moses costumes rush in and stab pharaoh with a sword, killing him. At this point in the dinner everyone cheers and a young man in a duck costume comes in the house to pump up the crowd and remove the dead body of the Pharaoh.
Now again, there was a LOT of wine involved so I may be misremembering the order but eventually during Seder there is singing. At this portion of the dinner four people who had been posing as normal dinner guests (friends of Liat and her husband Jake) stand up and reveal themselves to be a traditional Israeli band. They pull instruments out of hiding places and play a full set of Passover themed music.
The reactions of the crowd ranges from moderate surprise to full on shock. I am told that I have to cool out with the smoke because it is giving some of the more senior members of the table extreme anxiety.
As the band finishes their set, it is finally time to eat. But before we can feast there is one more surprise. Out on the front patio there is a large stuffed duck, my friend Matt pours gas on it and lights it on fire, then our Marine in full firefighter garb rushes outside to extinguish the fire to thundering cheers. The Matriarch Anat brings in a flaming duck for us to eat and confetti cannons launch to signify the grand finale. I think lasers were involved, I began my second bottle of wine.
The night quickly spiraled into something more akin to a wedding reception than a holy service. Paul convinced the band to play the song 'Shout' and by the time I snapped out of my brown out. I was dancing on a table with my shirt off beer showering to Zack Brown Band's 'Chicken Fried.'
After the adults (those born before 1980) retire for the evening, Seder Dos begins. This is essentially just a bunch of guys in their 20s and 30s drinking beer in a garage eating leftovers. In fact I'm sure it's what they did in high school for fun.
The kid who played Pharaoh is now crying in the corner on the phone asking his mom to pick him up because he's too drunk. Someone is passed out in a trash can. And the overserved f*ckboy that found the afikoman is telling Anat that the price is going to be four tickets to the opera.
What kind of asshat wants four tickets to the opera? The type of guy that says 'Hi my name is ___ I went to Duke."
Duke boy gets kicked out of the house like we are angry frat boys rallying against random dudes and I find myself losing 7 games of Civil War in a row to some kid ironically wearing a Metallica shirt.
I glance down and it's only 11pm. I feel like it should be 5 o clock in the morning. I did have a 6am flight, so I've been awake for quite some time. I scour my options. I can no longer hold my alcohol well, I'm sore from basketball and I may have a broken foot from trying to kickbox a heavy bag. The one thing I do have on these young guns though is experience.
First one to pass out always gets a bed.
I think I missed the award ceremony. I won MVP for my performance at my first Seder but this year the Andrew McIvor Memorial MVP trophy went to Liat for procuring a band. And when I woke up in a bed wearing someone else's clothes, using a towel as a blanket I didn't find it strange at all.
In the movie theater there were bodies everywhere. Some were still in costume, others spooning each other for warmth. The stench was that of a frat house on Sunday mornings. I wandered around the house and found more and more of my clothing. Apparently when I am at the Bird house, I feel completely comfortable just shedding articles and throwing them in random corners.
I thanked Dick and Anat as I prepared for a 6 hour drive back to Los Angeles, but not before stopping to spend $30 on snacks at Safeway.
(Jalapeno kettle chips, sour jelly bellys, coconut water, smart water, kombucha, sour patch kids, teriyaki jerky, gum, Rockstar, Gobstoppers, Slim Jim, Goldfish)
I returned a few texts.
"How was Seder?"
How do I encapsulate that experience in a short text?
Do I talk about the pinata? Do I lead with the duck costume? Will normal folks think it is strange that we had a two hour pregame before playing basketball and that people were already vomiting at 6pm?
'We're just excited to see each other,' is how I always excuse our sometimes immature behavior. Life is short, in fact we lost someone unexpectedly this year. You never know if a trip with a close friend will be the last, so I aim to treat it that way.
I'm not feeling 100% today and that drive home REALLY sucked. I mean to the point that I was cramping up and making Matt pull over so I could stretch.
But back to the question...how was Seder?
Seder was fucking fantastic and I hope I'm lucky enough to be invited back next year.
Friday, April 7, 2017
I was driving home from work, staring down at the Tender Greens in my lap fantasizing about my first bite when the phone buzzed.
"Did you hear?"
"Hurry home man, shit is going down."
I blew a stop sign and peeled into my parking spot at 627 Westminster. My roommates were outside drinking beers.
"What, what is it?"
One of them showed me his phone.
"Harvard AE Pi to go gender neutral; allow women to join."
I suppose it was always coming to this. In the age of safe spaces and trigger warnings, it was only a matter of time until women infiltrated the last unassailable men's only club. I went through 7 stages of grief immediately but what I settled on was, 'maybe this is actually kind of cool?'
I wrestled with it all night and I have decided that I must now engage in a debate (with myself) to decide if this is a good or bad idea.
The following took place inside my mind this morning between the hours of 9 and 10am Pacific Daylight Time. The dialogue has been slightly edited.
Good morning, my name is Dave and I will be arguing for the position that women should be able to join fraternities.
Voting. Working. Playing Golf.
These are things that we used to not let women do in this country. Hell, it's 2017 and we are still arguing over things like wage gap and the right to choose.
We have an opportunity now to be inclusive. We have an opportunity to tear down barriers that have existed for decades; rip apart social constructs that discriminated against people based on gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, the brotherhood of all fraternity members can take a stand now to improve our much maligned image and say "We stand with women."
Ummm. Ok. My name is Dave and I will be arguing that women are already allowed to join fraternities. They're called sororities. I win.
Dave drops mic and walks off stage.
Moderator: Sorry for the purpose of this organization fraternity will be defined as traditionally men's only Greek social clubs on a college campus.
Dave picks the mic back up and returns to the lecturn.
Fine. Ok. This is why allowing women to join fraternities is a bad idea. While I am all for male/female friendships it seems like a bad idea to put a bunch of 18 year olds in a mansion full of booze and say 'Have fun!'
So you think co-ed dorms are a bad idea? Apartment buildings in every city in America should be single sex?
Oh my God. This is going to be harder than I thought. Ok, let me start over. My name is Dave and I will be arguing against the assumption that women should be able to join traditionally male fraternities.
Brotherhood. That is the reason one joins a fraternity. But what does that mean? Well I define it as an unconditional support system. Someone that will be there for you in good time and in bad while you navigate the troubled waters of adolescence. I remember I joined a fraternity so I would have the joy of male companionship but also support with my schoolwork, advice on my romantic relationships and of course someone that could take me to the bar after a rough day. My pledge brothers helped me through these times and while I value all of my female companions, I find it inappropriate to cross these boundaries.
You don't think women can be good study partners? Give advice? Buy you a beer? How antiquated your views are.
Oh Christ, do I have to say it? They're gonna fuck. THEY'RE GONNA FUCK!
I find it offensive that you think men and women cannot carry on a meaningful platonic relationship.
Oh cut the shit you hippy libtard. They're gonna fuck and you know it. Hell I'm pretty sure some of the brothers already fuck each other. So will you drop this bullshit facade and give me an honest debate?
Ok, let's go away from the sex. Let's start with the hazing. Are you going to feel comfortable whipping a bucket of ice at a chick in her underwear? Making her drink dip spit? Telling her to put her elbows on bottle caps while she cries in front of you?
Oh they're going to cry just because they're -
No you dipshit, I cried too. Everyone cries. Even if we were to avoid the inevitable grossness of the first pledge sex slavery scandal, women's bodies are not designed to withstand some of the physical punishment of men's.
Well maybe fraternities should abolish hazing altogether.
I agree with you but that is a debate for another day. So will you concede that as currently constructed it would be a bad idea to have women join a fraternity that hazes?
And I will concede to move onward considering a fraternity that does NOT haze. So let's get back to the sex. Having a heterosexual woman in your pledge class would prove problematic no?
You wouldn't try to have sex with your real sister would you?
No but come on, I don't actually think of everyone in my pledge class as my brother. I hate half of these guys. And any girl I say 'is like a sister to me' I would totally bang if presented with the opportunity. So are we going to have these kids take a vow of celibacy?
And why can't they date? So you are romantically involved with someone in the same social organization as you, they just happen to live down the hall. It sounds almost normal.
Right, but a fraternity isn't really a 'normal' social organization is it? What happens with the inevitable break up? I knew my ex girlfriends were moving on and having sex with other guys. But I didn't have to watch it happen every night due to her living in the same house as me. I mean what about the showers? Is every night in the bathroom going to be the Starship Troopers locker room scene? Will my female pledge brother think it's funny when I pee on her foot?
You pee on people's feet in the frat shower?
You disgust me. Anyway, we throw up some dividers in the shower. No one enjoys a group prison shower and as for the dating, look it's practice for the real world. At some point in your life you will be attracted to one of your bud's ex girlfriends and there are mature and immature ways to go about navigating these tricky relationships.
But usually you aren't roommates with the guy that your ex is now sleeping with.
I submit that it will be weird for a while. There will be love triangles, quadrilaterals, heptagons.
What is a heptagon?
I'm not quite sure, but you have the get on board with the idea that there could be a female Phi Psi dating a male Phi Psi, a male delt dating a female Beta, perhaps even a female ATO dating a male Alpha Phi.
Whoa what...did you just advocate men joining sororities?
Why the hell not? I mean have you ever watched any British TV series? Fresh Meat? Crashing?
I watched Crashing. Pete Holmes definitely did not join a sorority.
No the other crashing. It starred the Fleabag chick they live in an abandoned hospital and pay no rent. It's a thing.
Wait, you can live for free in an abandoned hospital with chicks?
Only in the UK I think. We're getting off topic. Think of it as a bunch of like minded people living together hanging out. Like any group of friends there will be in-dating, there will be fights, at times it will be a little weird, but you get through it, just like any tight knit group on a sit com.
I suppose it would be at least interesting. Perhaps a spectacular disaster. Might even spurn a good Netflix series.
Sure! I'm not advocating for it to work, just for the right for it to exist. If women want to sign up to live in a shit hole with a bunch of spoiled alpha males they should be able to do it? Can we agree on that?
Sure, I guess it would be cool to have like a best bro that you play video games with and then hook up with on occasion. And maybe they will even keep the place a little cleaner?
Ok you're gender stereotyping now, let's not get on a slippery slope fallacy here. Maybe it will be just like it is now except some members wear a bra.
Sure. Chicks should be able to join fraternities, it might be weird at first but I guess so was calling Bruce Jenner Caitlyn.
Ya man and think about how lit like a 6 way party will be now. It will be more like a 12 way and instead of just hooking up with a girl in every sorority you can also hook up with a girl in every fraternity. It's going to be fucking dope.
Where do I sign?
Tuesday, April 4, 2017
I remember the adrenaline pumping through my system, a nervous energy like I would experience before a big game.
I was about to break the law.
Or attempt to break it at least. I was 18 fresh off high school graduation and I was standing in line at a bar.
I had spent the entire day working on an elaborate fake ID.
First, I had gone to the DMV and gotten an ID card, then I had printed a template of the Indiana ID card with extremely high resolution but I had changed my birthday to 82 instead of 87. Then I had re-laminated the entire thing, and then halfway melted it with a candle.
I approached the bouncer.
"Why is your ID so fucked up?"
"I put it in the dryer and it melted."
He handed it back and waved me in. I couldn't believe it. I was just like one of the teenagers on Gossip Girl or the OC, effortlessly getting into bars before even stepping foot in college.
I walked directly to the bar and ordered a beer and a shot and the bartender just gave it to me.
'OMG,' I thought to myself, 'no more garage hopping, no more "hey Mr.' no more begging an older sibling, stealing from my parents or driving to the ghetto where they don't really care about rules.'
I was a bar guy now.
Of course the next night when I came back to the Broad Ripple Tavern a different bouncer looked at my pitiful fake, put it in his pocket and told me to go home.
This was the first ID I would have confiscated, but certainly not the last.
Over the years I was from Dallas, South Dakota, Virginia, South Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania. I've been Chris Martens, Jimmy Brighton and David Johnson from Traverse City, Michigan.
I knew all their birthdays, the streets they grew up on and their astrological signs.
I tipped 50% at all the Greek bars to ingratiate myself to the staff because someone that couldn't get into Kilroy's was someone that didn't matter and I DESPERATELY wanted to matter.
During the crackdown of 2007 I found myself without an ID and had to resort to bribes, fence jumps, gate crashing, kitchen entrances and of course I failed at gaining entry to these establishments far more times than I was admitted. These were dark days, I remember standing outside the bar on one Saturday night as Journey played on the dance floor just beyond the front entrance and everyone was laughing and singing; having a good time.
I was crying and I walked all the way home to my fraternity and cursed my parents for enrolling me in school at a time that I would be on the younger end of my grade.
I'm 30 now. It's been almost 10 years since I had to sneak in to Kilroy's, Sports, Bluebird or Nick's. The last ID I had pulled was at the Red Shed in Madison Halloween 2007. I can purchase beer at any establishment, not just mini marts owned by immigrants and I suppose I take the ability to drink now for granted, and in all my wisdom I have come to a conclusion.
Bars are dumb.
It is shocking for me to read that sentence that I have just written because going to bars literally defined me as a person from 18-29. Bars were the social epicenter of the world, bars were where I could dance, where I wasn't afraid to talk to girls. I suppose you could say they were my natural habitat.
At bars you can sing, at bars you can be obnoxious, at bars you high five your friends that you haven't seen in a while and then everyone who arrived with you sees how awesome and popular you are. I was that guy. No matter when you came to the bar I would be there in a corner drinking a Long Island talking to some other frat star. It was like an exclusive little club of people that thought they were special.
And now I realize it was all so stupid.
Now don't get me wrong, there is a time and a place for going to the bar. Grab a drink with an old friend? Watch a game? Sure this is a nice reason to head to the pub for a bit. But the idea that every Friday and Saturday night (or even an aggressive Wednesday or Thursday) should ideally end at a public house of some sort is flawed.
Let me begin with a few pros and cons.
An obvious con is cost. Bars are expensive. They are also loud and full of strangers which is not a fun situation to find yourself in unless you are drinking. So let's assume to alleviate the awkwardness you choose to have a beer, but you are also with 5 buddies. So do you buy one beer? Buy 5 beers and just eat the 50 bucks? Or do you suggest everyone trade rounds. But what if you don't want 6 beers? What if someone wants cocktails which are twice as expensive but you want beer?
It's not only expensive, it creates awkward fiscal situations among friends. Maybe this doesn't matter when you are a bit more successful in life, but 2 rounds of beers for my friends is 100 bucks and that sucks. That's like 13% of my rent.
Another con is logistics.
I cannot tell you how many times I look back at college and think to myself...
Wait a minute: You're telling me I lived in a mansion, with no rules, where I could invite over ANYONE I wanted, free booze, and in spite of all of that I opted to go to a cramped little bar and pay for drinks????
College kids are weird.
Now I realize that I no longer have a mansion. In fact I have a small 3 bedroom apartment. But I could still throw a party. Sure, there wouldn't be pledges to clean it in the morning, I can't play Backstreet Boys at 100000 decibels, but the general rules of hosting still apply and I would argue that this presents a more fun environment for partying than does a bar.
Think back to the most fun days of your past year.
I'll rattle mine off...
4th of July Party
Road trip with dad
road trip with mom
My Christmas party
All of those nights were either house parties where I was with all of my friends, or a vacation of some sort that I went on.
Rarely do I sit back and fantasize about that one random Friday night that the music was really good at The Victorian.
And in fact even when I think about my college greatest hits or my Chicago greatest hits it's Little 5, date parties, formals, drinking 237 shots on Matt McBroom's roof...bars are just vessels for hangovers really.
That is not to say that going to a bar has no value.
If you are single, maybe you can meet a girl on the dance floor. Maybe you can listen to loud music. You won't have to worry about cleaning anything up in the morning. Maybe you only have a couple friends to go out with. A 'house party' with you and your two buddies visiting from out of town would be incredibly lame. Even if you are too chicken shit to talk to women, at least you can go somewhere to catch up while there is a degree of ambiance in the background.
If your soul goal is to quench your thirst so to speak then ya, going to a bar is also a pretty good play, but the older I get I suppose the less interest I have in going home with a 2014 UCLA grad that lives with her parents in Northridge.
Also if you are going to house parties there are likely to be people there that you do not know but you share mutual friends with. In fact this is how the majority of my friends met their partners. Going to a house party is a natural screening process. I would assume that the majority of my friends would not invite serial killers over to a onesie party.
My last argument for house parties would be that...well...you can typically do whatever you want.
"Hey, does anyone want to do a tequila shot?"
You don't have to think, "well if I allow this person to buy me a tequila shot then I have to reciprocate and that will cost me...'
NO. It's all free (well paid for but like a 15 dollar bottle of Jose Cuervo is basically free)
And if you want to take 8 you can take 8 and if you want to take one you can take one and if you meet a girl and really want to go make out with her in a broom closet, you can ask her if she wants to make out in a broom closet and if she says yes than by god you go make out with her in a broom closet and have a fun story for the rest of your life.
In closing: bars are overrated. Bars often lead to an average time, a mediocre night that you have forgotten about already by Monday. Bars are also expensive, logistically annoying (my god I didn't even talk about the Ubers) and often 'meh.'
Instead of going to the same old shit hole every Friday and Saturday night, dropping $100 a night (and quite honestly, that's a conservative number...if you're working on a chick that number could balloon REALLY quick) consider staying in, watching a movie, just think about how the math adds up.
If you sacrifice two shitty bar nights; that's $200. That is enough for your portion of a friends' Palm Springs weekend.
4 shitty bar nights is a Coachella ticket.
8 shitty bar nights (basically no bars for a month) is enough for an international trip. (Norweigian Air to Scandinavia, Wow to Iceland, or Aeromexico to Colombia and shitty hostels)
Now think about it: would you rather go to Canal Club 8 times or visit Medillin.
Is 4 nights at Adults Only as fun as watching Hans Zimmer shred in the desert?
Is your Friday/Saturday at The Phoenix as much fun as floating on an inflatable swan at The Ace Hotel?
The answer to all of these is definitely no.
Stop going to bars. Travel more and seek out house parties.
Or go to concerts.
Or go to sporting events.
You can drink almost anywhere...and almost anywhere is better than in a dark room full of strangers.