"Oh, what's up with this falcon?" - Me.
I was out with friends at a sporting event, soccer, or football, whatever you call it, to be specific. I am not a huge sports guy, but I am always excited for people that are. Although I may have no idea what is going on, who scored, or what the rules of the game are, I am excited that it brings everyone around me such joy. Plus being in an arena, surrounded by passionate people, is hypnotizing. The second you step into this type of atmosphere you become apart of it. I have no idea how soccer is played, but I wanted whoever we were cheering for to win.
We found our seats and settled in before the match started. I found out it is called a match, not a game. I felt the energy pick up, and everyone started pointing. I began to look around to see what was going on, and before I knew it, a falcon was being released and flying throughout the stadium. "What the hell kind of sport is this?" I thought to myself. But, I was all in. Falcons are badass. Being from Philadelphia, I am cool with almost any bird of prey. Go birds! The game started and the place lit up. You couldn't help but get on your feet and cheer. Cheer for what? I have no idea, but I found myself just wanting to be a part of the action. Without knowing any of the rules of the match, I decided that going along with whatever cheer everyone else was doing would be the best course of action.
After a little bit, it was definitely time to grab a few beers. My friend told me that sometimes they have the falcon out and about to meet and greets during the game. That was all I needed to hear. I was already going to get up and go grab beers, but now I had the chance to meet a falcon. Done. I gave a quick thumbs up to my friend, and they knew I wasn't coming back until I found that falcon...and a beer.
I wondered around the area aimlessly for what felt like forever. I found a beer and drank it. Then I rounded another corner and nothing. Where could this damn thing be? I rounded one more corner and heard children in awe. I turned and looked to see it, there she was. Mission accomplished. I pushed the kids out of the way, met the animal handler and had my chance to hang out with this falcon. I came to watch the game, but left with so much more.
The photo above is proof that dreams come true.
"You are really shitty at this." - Jamie.
I suck at taking great photos of my wife. The only reason I know this is because she has told me many times. She is fearless with her feedback and critiques. I need to work on lining things up the way she envisioned it, as well as my use of the rule of thirds. I also take forever to take a photo. We will have everything lined up, and I wait until I think I have found the perfect moment where she is smiling, or not, at the right time. I believe there is an art to the pause, but she seems to disagree. I honestly don't think I am that bad at it, but whenever I take a shot I think is tasteful, she reassures me I am awful at it, especially when it comes to taking great photos of her.
Recently we were out for a sunny Sunday lunch. We gassed up our old VW van, Big Red II, and took a drive south along the coast until we got hungry. Typically we like to stick to pub food and happy hours on our weekend days off together. Brews and pub food keeps the day easy. You know what you are getting. We get such little time together we like to keep it comfortable with a burger and fries. We found a brewery on the water. What else could you ask for? Craft brews and lunch overlooking the Pacific sounds incredible, so we grabbed a round of beers and found some seats on one of the brewery's outside patios. It's time to take in the sun.
After the alcohol hit the bloodstream, it was time to bust out the iPhones and start snapping photos. It's like clockwork. We suddenly find ourselves to be portrait photographers the instant we get a buzz. As if we were photographers all along, but were caged by our sober alternate personalities. "The sun is giving off some perfect lighting right now." Jamie said, "And don't take forever, just take the god damn picture." Classic me, always taking forever to take a photo. This is strike one. Jamie held up her beer and smiled. Like usual, I paused and then took the picture. Strike two. "Jesus, what the hell is wrong with you? You have to get better at this, I love you, but get your shit together." Jamie told me. I tried again and failed miserably, taking a blurry photo of the table as the phone fell out of my hand clanking down. Everyone looked over at us as Jamie turned to me and said, "You're a moron, you know that?" Strike three. I love my wife.
We continued about our day, got another round of beers, and forgot all about how I dropped her iPhone on the table causing a scene. We moved on, and I took another billion photos of her sitting in a chair holding her beer and grinning ear to ear while she moved her head around, tried different poses, and maneuvering facial features. My wife can be the shyest woman I know or the most photogenic person I have met. It all depends on the blood alcohol level, and at the perfect amount, she can strut a runway.
"We need to do this more." - Us.
We live a mile from the Pacific Coast, and we find ourselves rarely taking advantage of it, especially during the winter months. Just like everyone else, we get wrapped in our lives and the stresses each day can bring. We talk about stress as if most of it is out of our control. I feel we get set on auto-pilot-mode, letting others dictate our decisions. The emotional toll that stress brings allows us to get lazy. It is easy to sit on the couch after a day at work to watch something mind-numbing, order some food from whatever food-delivery app has the best deal of the day, and pass out. Our laziness can be a vicious cycle.
I had a rare Saturday night off, and instead of going to a happy hour somewhere, getting tired, and crashing on the couch, Jamie and I decided to do a beach picnic. I raced home from work and kicked off my shoes - exchanging them for my flip flops - and we rolled down the hill to the beach in our comfortably converted VW Vanagon. There was almost no one on the beach, so we picked a spot to spread out and enjoyed the sunset. The summer breeze was coming in from the sea, and the sounds of the ocean crashing down on the sand played softly in the background as we dug into our dinner.
It is nice to put the phones down and have a conversation. I love technology as much as anyone; however, unplugging can help clear your head and get back to the scenery around us. Beauty is everywhere; you don't need a beach picnic to realize it - not to say that it doesn't help. There is always something beautiful around if we take a second to notice it. As the sun set and disappeared behind the Santa Monica mountains, I almost wanted to clap as if a band had just finished their encore.
We stayed on the beach for an extra few minutes to finish our drinks and snap a few photos; not a bad little Saturday night. We both committed to doing this more often. If I could, I would eat every meal on the beach. Take a second to see if you can find something worth pausing and admiring today.
It might just change your mood.
"Why are you crying?" - Me.
Over the years we have put a lot of miles on our second-hand, black, '00 Eddie Bauer Edition, Ford Expedition. Grandmom, as we called her, has taken us across the country multiple times. She has gotten us up and down the mountains in Colorado and guided us through deserts in Nevada, Texas, and California. We have been through the Great Plains together. Grandmom has made it through more National Parks than I can remember, down alleyways she could barely fit through, been parallel parked in spaces that mathematically didn't make sense, all while hauling our small enclosed trailer. Grandmom has been packed with musical equipment, as well as accidentally passing through a close-set movie filming. Grandmom does what Grandmom wants. We were just there for the ride.
Since moving back to Santa Monica, the old girl has been sitting for over a year collecting parking tickets. It is unfair for us to keep her stationary. Grandmom is a road-dog. She needs to get back out there to explore. She needs to stretch her legs and adventure. She has done a lot for us, and now it is time to pass her on to the next adventurer who can get her back on the road. We will miss you old girl.
It was not an easy decision to put Grandmom up for sale. The mean streets of Santa Monica and the greed of the city have put us in the tough position of downsizing. Santa Monica and the greater LA area makes it impossible for anyone to park on any street, at any time. Grandmom was getting parking tickets weekly on our residential street. We were spending more on her just sitting there than we had in the past 5 years on repairs, gas, and traveling across the country.
We never thought we would get this upset over selling an inanimate object. I was actually quite happy to post her "for sale" ad on Craiglist. I was fueled by the hate of paying never-ending parking tickets, but once someone actually responded to make a cash offer, the sale of Grandmom became real. At first, I was glad to get rid of her, but when I cleaned her out for the last time coming across nicknacks that had been lodged under the seats from the different hotels we had stayed at, or various gas stations we filled up at, it hit me. This was the end of our time together. As we drove to drop her off to her next owner, I was fighting back the tears. An overwhelming wave of gratefulness and guilt washed over me. It didn't help that Jamie was sprawled across the foldable-bench-seating in the rear bawling, I mean really ugly crying. Full on moans and sadness poured out of her, she was inconsolable. And, so was I - on the inside.
Handing over her title and signing over our liability of Grandmom was tough. My ears were hot, and my throat had swollen shut. It took everything in me not to cry. I patted her on the hood on last time and quietly whispered my thank yous to her for all she had done for us. She had essentially protected my family like it was her own. She had made sure we always got to our destination safely. I am glad we spent the last few years together, and I hope I treated you as well as you treated us.
Take care of your new owners like you took care of us, and I look forward to seeing you soon in auto-heaven.
Thank you, Grandmom.
"I can't say it feels good." - Me.
I have a bunch of tattoos. Some of them have a special meaning and others simply do not. One that has absolutely no meaning at all is the sandwich I have tattooed on my thigh. I guess what it really means is I love hoagies (east-coast word for sandwich) from Wawa (gas station/grocery store/coffee shop/incredible) and I love where I come from. I have met people who have tattoos that remind them of their children or deceased relatives. I have met people who have portraits on their chest and other sentimental notions that have such depth it makes you want to cry. I have also met people who got a tattoo of a hotdog because they were drunk and wanted a tattoo of a hotdog. I think the thing to remember is that tattoos mean something different to everyone.
Jamie and I have both been tattooed but never got tattooed at the same time. It has been a while since either of us has gotten any new permanently inked onto our bodies so we figured we were do. We did some research, but kept coming up blank for an artist or shop that we really thought was a perfect match for our style, or lack thereof. Finding the right shop and artist is hard.
I was at our local market a few weeks back and ran into an old friend. He had just got a few new tattoos and they looked awesome. They had vivid colors and that specific attention to detail that you want in a tattoo. He recommended his artist and shop. Boom. Just like that, we were in business. I got home and couldn't wait to tell Jamie that I had found us a shop that our friend recommended and that I like his work. We drove down to check out the shop immediately and before we knew it we had appointments.
Getting tattoos sucks. It stings. Don't let anyone tell you that it is an enjoyable experience, they are lying. The enjoyable experience is when it is over and you get a drink. The other enjoyable high comes when it’s done healing and you have an incredible piece of artwork that you carry with you everywhere you go. I love my tattoos and I can't remember what my body looked like without them.
This marks Jamie's second tattoo and she got her inner forearm done. She rules. Such a badass move. I thought she would be done in minutes because she was getting some very small and fine line-work but those thin lines come at a price, and that price is time. Mine, on the other hand, took about an hour and it's double the size of hers. I kept my traditional sailor style theme going and plan to keep it going until I barely have any skin left.
When you are younger, I feel everyone tells you to think long and hard about getting tattoos and that they won't be acceptable or you won't get a job. Those people are knuckleheads. They think mayo is spicy. If you feel like getting a friggin tattoo, do it. I don't regret any of mine and I bet you won't either.
"I got a letter? Who the shit mails a letter anymore?" - Me.
I use to think my grandma hated me. Who knows, maybe she does. I am the son of the family's black sheep. It seemed like no matter what I did it was never good enough. There always seemed to be an issue or an off-centered comment in all of our interactions. It only seemed to get worse as time went on.
My grandma, my father's mother, was dealt a tough hand. She lived in an orphanage in Philadelphia, was eventually adopted and got married. That marriage ended in divorce, which was a way bigger deal then than it is now. This left her alone with too many children and a household to manage. I met my biological grandpa twice in my life, and I remember him being a dick anyway. So, reflecting on it now, I can see why she was miserable; or at least seemed to be. She did eventually re-marry to a wonderful man who I consider to be my real grandfather regardless if we are related by blood or not. RIP Marvin.
Throughout life, even if it was a birthday, graduation, or life event, it always seemed to be one step forward and two steps back with her. She would wish me a happy birthday and in the next breath tell me to go back to school and my car needed to be washed. All our conversations seem to hover at a 30,000-foot level. No matter what I could not seem to break through and connect with her. It did not help that later in life she did let me use her house to start a production company. We were essentially rent free, but there were a few rules. I could not party or drink there. What did I do? I partied and drank there. I was 23. What did I expect from myself? We did accomplish work, and grew our business, but that was a moot point. No matter how I tried to explain it to her, it was irrelevant. She found a beer bottle. I broke the rule. I was out. Business. Over.
A few years went by and I moved all over the country, took my career more seriously, and gained some more life experience. I reflected on my relationship with her. A few years back, I decided to start calling her more often - all my family actually - to make sure I was doing my best to remove any roadblocks that could prevent our relationship from growing. The first few calls were awkward - terrible in fact. She would wonder what I wanted, if I was asking for money, or if I needed her help with no return on investment. I ensured her all I wanted to do was talk and check in.
It took a while to regain trust and show her that I was no longer a 23-year-old moron. Our calls have gotten more pleasant, and this past week I received a handwritten letter from her. We have turned a new leaf! I could not believe it. I was in shock and excited. Getting something in the mail from Amazon is one thing, but getting a handwritten letter is something completely different. I set it aside and made time to read it without distraction. A personalized letter is special. She informed me about how she was doing, how her friends are and wished me and Jamie well.
I am writing her back now and using a typewriter to do it. I want her to have a personalized message from me. A text can be ignored, an email can be deleted, but a typed or handwritten document is personal. I am glad she and I are on better terms. It took a while, but we did it.
Love ya, grandma.
"There is no way he is going to make that full court shot." - Me.
Over the last year a couple of my friends and I committed to seeing each other more often. We all have varying work schedules that make it almost impossible to see each other, but we decided there would be no excuses. After playing the "what day works for you" game for a while we decided that Wednesdays would work for all of us. We have all played this game before. It's where a bunch of working adults stand around and look at their iPhone calendars and continue to ask each other questions like, "Does Tuesday at 4 pm work?" Then someone responses with, "Ah, no, I have a flute lesson" or "Gotta take my girlfriend to the dentist" or "Oh no dude, I can't" with no real reason given. We were committed to hanging out so we clear our schedules for Wednesday afternoons.
Organically we just started meeting up and playing basketball. I have no idea where this idea came from or why we consistently, without asking a question of why, just all knew to show up at Virginia Park in Santa Monica on Wednesday to shoot around. Most of the time we'd play horse. Every once in a while we'd attempt some one on one, or even a pickup game with whoever was there. We would talk about our weeks and upcoming plans. We'd talk shit about politics, business ventures, how our significant others think we act like teenage dorks; which in all fairness, we do. We could get together and talk about old pop-punk bands from the 2000's like it's nobody's business.
I'd like to point out that none of us have any athletic ability and looked like complete fools on the court, but we didn't care. We were out there to talk trash, catch up, and connect. Towards the end of these meet up's we decided to see who could take the most unique shot. While all the other community members were playing games of 21 or practicing their free throws, we were busy taking full court shots, screaming "KOBE!" regardless if it went in, which it never did. We are all from Philadelphia and what you see portrayed on It's Always Sunny, is not that far off from a real-world depiction of how people from that area are actually like. Interrupting another court full of players so we can do a trick bounce-shot off a trash can? Check.
Both of my friends recently got new jobs with incredible opportunities. The flip side is these new opportunities will take them away from a close proximity to Virginia Park and our basketball days have come to an end. I am super proud of these two from grinding it out and not giving up when their careers felt stagnant. Being miserable 40+ hours a week is no way to live your life, so I'm pumped we all get to do something we enjoy and get up excited about. If you have to work for someone, you better freaking like it.
I am bummed out that our collective may be on a hiatus, but I know that we will soon grace the court soon and maybe eventually someone will make that full court, bounce shot off the trash can, through the trees, off the park bench and get "nothing but net."
“Dude, no fucking way.” - Me.
We just stood there. I couldn't believe it. I have been playing this game on and off for five years and have never come this close. Could I have done it? My first hole in one?
Moments earlier my friend, Ryan, and I had been lining up our shots on the 5th. It's a beautiful day out in Southern California, but when is it not? It's sunny, mid-70's, with a few white, billowing clouds spotting the blue mid-morning sky. A cool breeze washed across my face as I approached my attempt to par this hole. I have played this course before and for some reason the 5th always destroys me. I can never seem to line it up right. I took a deep breath and let it rip.
Ry was watching the ball as I slowly brought my head up. I had no idea where it went so I turned to him and asked, "Where did it go, dude?" I pivoted to look towards the green and saw the flag on the pin give a little shake as if something had struck it. I thought to myself there was no way I just nailed it. There wasn't a chance. I turned back to Ry, handed him my phone, and told him to head down in front of me, I didn't want to see it yet. He looked back with astonishing awe, "Dude, you did it." He ran towards the green and I just stood there, 100 yards away reflecting on the shot.
I had pared the last three holes and was proud of that, there was no way I could have just sunk this in one shot. It just doesn't make sense, I am not good at golf. But, maybe it's just my lucky day. I trekked down towards my shot and Ry was jumping up and down screaming, "Dude, you nailed it! It popped in and out, I know it!" My ball, from a shot taken 100 yards away, had been lying on the lip of the hole. I stiff breeze or tremor could have toppled it in. I couldn't believe it. I finally did it, the eagle quest was over. I couldn't, and still can't, believe it.
Ryan tried to convince me that it was a hole in one, but we all know it wasn't. At most, my ball might have popped in and out of the hole, potentially, for just a moment, it was a hole in one. I will take the eagle. We must have stayed there for ten minutes celebrating and holding up everyone behind us trying to tee off. I didn't care. We took photos, videos, and I am pretty sure I text everyone I have ever played golf with to show them this accomplishment.
The most humbling thing about this experience was the very next hole I sliced it back into the tree line. There we go, that's the game I am used to. Maybe it was a bit of luck from the golf gods to let me have a moment in the sun, but they promptly put me back in my place on the 6th.
Damn you, golf gods. Why must you play with my emotions like this?
This past Record Store Day was incredible. I love the community vibe, the passion, and electricity that happens when a bunch of music lovers come together to celebrate their favorite music. Record Store Day 2019 celebrates the 10th year in a row I have been participating in the joys of selectively released and limited pressed selections from recording artists from all over the world. I have been able to celebrate Record Store Day in 3 different cities over the last decade and every year keeps getting better.
Here is the haul and some pictures of my buddy Alec and I celebrating at Record Surplus in Los Angeles!
It’s a beautiful Friday in Southern California and we hope yours is shinning as well. This week we have new tracks from east-coasters Saver, ARMORS, Sunsleeper, and more brought to you exclusively through Apple Music! Check it out now!
"Welp. Shit." - Me.
It was a perfect day off. I was going to meet two of my friends for golf, the weather is beautiful. Our dryer is still broken so the pressure to accomplish all the laundry that is piling up fell out of sight and out of mind. I mean, I can't finish the laundry if I can't dry it, right? The sun is out, the warm morning breeze of summer is blowing through Santa Monica and I had nothing to do but hit the links with the boys. What else could I ask for?
Well, they both canceled on me last minute. I was pissed. This was supposed to be a beautiful mid-week break from work to hang and have some guy time, but no, one of them had to get food poisoning and the other had to go to the doctors, my friends are so inconsiderate. How dare they not consult me before making other plans to tend to their health? I decided to go anyway and play solo, it'll still be a great time.
I pulled into the public golf course and got ready to go. The bag was loaded up, sunblock on, and had a few snacks and beverages. Time to play. I teed off and was feeling great about the start to my day, who needs those guys anyway. I pulled up to the green and went looking for my putter. "Oh, shit, I knew I forgot something" I rambled to myself. As it turns out I had recently used my putter for a thrilling game of indoor-putter-return in my living room a few nights before. My putter now rests in the corner of my kitchen, nowhere near the first hole of this game. Shit.
What am I to do? Go back and rent a putter? Hell no. I can't admit I am a moron. I am going to figure this out and play this round the way the powers that be wanted me to, without a putter. Maybe it was a sign I should work on my chipping technique. Either way, I am not turning back now.
It wasn't my worst round ever, but definitely, one that I won't forget. I used my driver, my 3 and my 9 all as putters for the day. Other folks on the course occasionally looked over at me like I was out of my mind. Plus, I even managed to feed a squirrel. All in all, incredible day on the course. Any day out playing golf beats even your best day at work.