Luke, I Am Your Father

photo (3)Well, well, well. Last night, the Mrs. carefully scrutinized our schedules, activities, and whereabouts for twenty-thirteen’s October. This might be a bit of TMI, but yes ladies and gentleman, with a near one-hundred percent certainty, we are finally comfortable with proclaiming: Twas my alter ego Joey Jo Jo who finally managed to sneak his evil seed past the proverbial goalie. On the eve of Halloween no less! If you’ve ever had the dubious pleasure of meeting that maniac, you are likely shaking your head like I did saying, “Of course it was him, that makes perfect sense.” Voodoo, black magic, warlockery and witchcraft—I’m a big fan of it all when it works out in my favor. Prior to unleashing Joey Jo Jo back into the world, I think we’d been trying to get pregnant for five months (not the longest of times, sure, but roll with this farce, friends). After nearly a year and a half of imprisonment in my gray matter—one night, that’s all he needed. Like all padres to be, I’ve put a lot of time against the speculation of who exactly, what exactly, this soon-to-be-born child of ours will be like. Now we have a more Windexed window into the possibilities, so watch out world, in two to three to six (who can say when the little demon will choose to exit) the first born of the maddest man to ever shred an axe in lower Manhattan is gonna drop on this rock like a tiny megaton boom. I’m excited. Maybe I’ll let Joey Jo Jo out at the birthing center too, I mean after all… Oh, by the by, his name ain’t gonna be Luke.

See You In The Funny Pages

“The image of a grown married man dressed in khaki shorts, a corporate logo polo, deck shoes with no socks, complete with braided belt turns my stomach. The image of that same gent leaning his body from a seated position as far over the nicked brass railing of a stripper’s stage, with his tongue protruding as far out of his mouth as possible, in—I don’t know—the hopes that the all-nude stripper in front of him will “accidentally” back her ass into it… well, is one I’d pay big money to eternal-sunshine-of-the-spotless-mind-style-remove.”

These are words from a back-burner book slowly being written as I pen others that details some of my adventures in the business of advertising. And maybe a warning of sorts.

The other day my wife was kind enough to regale me with a David Sedaris’ interview in which the author recalled some embarrassing experiences while living in Paris, France. The gist of it was this: when he is the victim of his own incompetency or the accidental fating of some awkward and absurd moment, the feeling sticks with him well after. He can’t help but think that those around him not only noticed, but took note, and are maybe carrying around his befuddlement as a story to tell. Not because he is famous, mind you. But because this is what he does; he observes people. All writers do.

I’m not here to lump myself in with Sedaris’. Honestly, I’m not even comfortable with referring to myself as a writer most days. I wonder if I ever will be. But, fair warning, I do observe. I do take it all in, and I use what I see when crafting characters, situations and the mayhem. Any fictitious character I create is likely some mighty amalgamation of personalities, quirks, sayings, that are thrust upon me, if not sought out, especially when I’m extra bored in a public setting.

Funny enough, as I’ve always done this, it’d never occurred to me that my own shortcomings, blow-ups, missteps, foot-in-mouth-events, short-fuse moments, and even the NSFW moments of my life might be working their way into some other author’s book or books. In a way, maybe books have long been making people famous without them even knowing it. At the very least, some part of that person. Some tiny little thing you often do, or some monumental mistake you once made, right now, could be making its way into another’s prose. And with the huge surge in self-publishing, I suspect it’s happening far more frequently than ever.

But worry not, nobody reads anymore. Right?

Let The Vitriol Begin (Again)

But I Love YouThis week I’ll be pushing my sophomore literary effort, But I Love You, into the world with a plug-it-until-it-makes-people-puke enthusiasm. Then, when the dust settles, the pride built over a two-year crafting of words into story will do its best to withstand the free-flying stink of negativity that might eventually accompany it on its humble sale pages scattered across the internet. They’ll be good reviews (written by moms, friends, and even strangers), and they’ll be stuff that makes me question wether writing is my thing. That’s just part of the game. And like the first time, I’ll abstain from writing any particular individual to tell them just how wrong they are about it. I’ll remain chipper in the face of phrases like, “Do yourself a favor and skip this one. You’ll be glad you did,” and “Such promise to fall so flat.” There’s a bevy of other choice barbs and stinging insults, some written by folks who were kind enough to only read the first chapter before “awarding” My Dead Friend Sarah one or two stars. You take the punches and move on. Hell, if you are me, you secretly hope that your book turns the insides of someone so intensely that they decide to come after you. You wonder how hard it is to get a restraining order. You fantasize about a blurb on some celebrity dot-com rag that mentions how you went to court to testify against the stalker. You aim for the kind of crazy that drove you to write the book in the first place. I didn’t set out to create a polarizing tale the first time. And though I’d toyed with the idea of doing so for the second story, the notion lost steam as I realized that action in and of itself would betray me. In the end, like the first time, I’d like to think that I’ve managed to merge some very real-world observations on the way we live with a story that moves quickly and keeps people entertained and wanting more. There’s more to the story, but I’ll need that material to bug you later in the week as I try and coax you our of a few bucks and some of your time.

The Nicest Skin Poacher Ever

Just a few months ago, I finally got around to having a long-overdue full-body skin cancer screening. I apologize for whatever mental images of me that might provide you. Like the tree I fell from, I am a man of many freckles and moles. And somewhere, buried in the complex history of the extended family, I believe there has been melanoma–and so, I’m never really super keen on getting checked out, for fear of what they might find. This time around, after an exam that included lab results concerning two, I was given a clean bill of health yet again.

“Yes! Another year, free of worry.” I thought.

At least ‘free of worry’ regarding my moles, until of course, a few days before the next exam that I had planned on having with the very doctor I’d just seen around the same time next year. I liked her bedside manner–it was an appropriate mix of motherly caring, put-off and disgusted girlfriend, genuinely interested scientist, and awkward first-time stand-up comedian.

“Good for me,” I thought. “Hard to find a Dermi you can trust.”

Even our recent decision to move didn’t phase me. I surmised that Boston would be close enough to head back specifically to see her. The whole experience had been just that good. Plus, she’d made me promise to come back in a year to see her again, and I had. And this Dermi, in my opinion, was a real keeper. Or so I thought.

Last week, I received a letter from the clinic that she was a part of. The note was brief, and I am paraphrasing here, but it read, “Dr. X, has decided to leave us. She will be opening a practice elsewhere, etc. But, we’d still appreciate your business.” I was simultaneously crushed that she’d decided to go and elated that she too, like me, had decided to call it quits for a bit on NYC.

“Maybe she’s even going to Boston,” I thought. “Wouldn’t that be something?”

A few days later though, while going through paperwork to dispose of before our move, I reread the letter from the clinic. What it said hadn’t changed, not one bit. But, upon this second examination of the words they’d use to explain her absence, I began to formulate a new theory of what had occurred–why they dismissed her, what she had been up to, and how the letter itself was just their way of sweeping the whole ugly affair under the proverbial rug.

Instantaneously, I came to believe the following: She had never had a license, hadn’t even gone to school, had tricked the other doctors who owned that clinic into hiring her with the same bedside manner shenanigans I mentioned before, she loved other people’s moles, maybe their skin, she collected moles and skin bits, moles were like her trophies, she wasn’t a serial killer yet, but you could be sure they’d found tons of small pieces of her former patient’s bodies in the refrigerator of her small studio apartment on the Lower East Side, and in due time, just shaving pieces of moles off for keep sakes hadn’t been enough, a loud scream had occurred from a room at the clinic, and the other staffers ran in, only to find her having attempted to shave a patient’s head or other limb clean off.

Given the other resident Doctors’ oversight, it makes sense that they’d make the claim that “she’d decided to move on.” Obviously right? They aren’t going to pen a letter detailing what you and I now know really happened. Fortunately, I know how to read between the lines, and read between them I do.

Perhaps less fortunately though, I now worry that the entirety of my two visits with her, in which she most definitely took those two little pieces of me with her for her frozen collection at home, was all for not–at least as it pertains to my clean-bill of health, I mean, she’ll have them to pet and love on still.

And so, I’ll have to be a bit more careful in selecting the next Dermi, because ZocDoc.com, really doesn’t detail this sort of thing.

My Little White Room

Every so often, I am treated to a lovely dream by my frenemy, my brain, in which I find myself awaking in a little white room upon a very sterile white twin bed, tucked under spotless white covers–tightly, and unable to move, even though there are no signs of restraints being used to prevent me from lifting myself from the bed to investigate past what my eyes can see: a small white table next to the bed, a glass with what appears to be water, and a window not much bigger than two foot by two foot on the wall to my left that might have the outside world on the other side, but the sun is so bright that everything is blown-out, and thus, not discernable.

Sometimes a human–possibly a doctor, researcher, agent, or any other manifestation of authority–enters the room to check on me. I try to speak, but I can’t. They do no speaking themselves, and reveal nothing as to the nature of my detainment. Usually this person hovers over me, staring at me, saying nothing and performing no examination or other molestation–just delivers a grin that rides the line between sympathetic and pleased. When he or she is gone, I’m left there to ponder what events might have taken place prior to my awakening, what are the circumstances surrounding my detainment. But there is never any true recollection–just speculation and the construction of numerous possibilites that might explain how I landed there. This is usually followed by a temporary bout of panic that either grows to the degree necessary to awaken me in the reality we call reality, or is just enough to seemingly reset the dream–and have me find myself in that same little white room again, for what feels like the very first time. And repeat.

Some might refer to this as a reoccurring dream, but it doesn’t happen with enough frequency for me to classify it as such–unlike say, the dream I often have where I know I’ve only a few days until a long prison term, and I spend much of it trying to figure out how to prevent a destiny I know I’ve already cemented for myself, despite not knowing what actions did the cementing.

I tend not to read too much into dreams–at least not my dreams–and these two narratives in particular are probably only a three on a ten scale that measures a dream’s disturbing-factor, ten being the most twisted ones that leave me not wanting to ever go back to sleep. But maybe, like so many things I think and imagine, that which is disturbing to you–a ten on your own scale–has become commonplace for me, my darker thinking routine enough to no longer see the spectacle of it all. Often the first thing that comes to my mind regarding the outcomes of a situation revolves around a twisted little nugget of a possibility that my friends and family might not have hypothesized if even given a day to dwell on potential scenarios.

Ugh. It almost sounds like I’m bragging, and maybe I am, but I certainly hope you won’t hold it against me–let it feed whatever insecurities you might have just enough to consider, and then put into action, a plan that finds you abducting me and reconstructing my Little-White-Room dream in order to get back at me. On the off chance that you do go forward with this very complicated form of retribution, please note: the bedside table is on the left of me, as is the viewless window, and the door to the room, which has no knob, should be placed to the right of my bed and in the farthest corner from me in what I can only guess is about a 12 x 12 foot room. Thanks!

Animals In The Know

Dear owner of the dog downstairs,

No need to apologize for your dog’s dislike of me. Oh wait, you didn’t apologize, nor have you ever apologized. Like your dog, you seemingly have zero respect for the rest of the world and the personal space of its other inhabitants. Even so, there really is no need to apologize. Your dog gets it. I hate him, and I hate you. Hard to hide that kind of negative energy from some of nature’s special little critters. And so, in a weird way, even as I loathe your beast, there is also a growing respect for his ability to see through my mask of ambivalence–so, don’t get too bent out of shape about it. You might be thinking, “Gee neighbor, you must hate dogs.” I have used the word “gee” for a reason, I believe it helps me paint you as the lumbering moron I believe you to be for my readers. Anyway, I don’t hate dogs–anymore than I hate people. Some dogs suck, like yours, and some people suck, like you. Part of me should be fearful that you might come upon this blog post, do some quick math via google, and ultimately decide to unleash the filthy mutt (bad choice of words, since I’ve never seen it on a leash) to feast upon my flesh. I’m pretty sure you don’t do much reading though, call it a hunch. Well, until next time, I’ll be honing my ability to trick your dog into thinking everything’s cool. “Keep your enemies closer,” and what not, right? Enjoy the rest of the day that I almost allowed you to let me ruin for myself.

Sincerely,

The dude upstairs who hates your dog, but respects the keen sense of energy fields it, unlike you, possesses

Aurora, Colorado on my Mind

I try my best to keep the chronicling of my paranoia lighthearted–no easy task, when most of the twisted thoughts I endure revolve around death, pain, and horrible possibilites. Part of this effort has always involved the conscious decision to not riff on the tragic real-world events that occur to others. My paranoia is as responsible for this as is my belief in decency and decorum in regards to not exploiting the daily disturbing mishaps that, too often, are accompanied by the nearly unimaginable grief of real people, families, sons, daughters, brothers and mothers. Fear sells stuff–papers, books, shows, blogs, politicians, products of all kinds.

I want to believe that even as I seek to enlighten people about the improbable, albeit possible, and disturbing consequences of simply putting yourself out into the world daily, that I can do so in a manner that injects some sense of relief, positivity, and well-being into that same world, through my special brand of dark humor. I’m not sure that’s what this blog has been doing. I’m only certain that it is my intent, and as such, it takes a good deal of self-restraint in order to not turn it into something too heavy, exploitive, laced with facts, figures, and the haphazard citing of present-day tragedies in order to prove a point.

As usual, I’ve spent far too long setting up my head space, rather than diving into the meat and potatoes of this post. I offer many apologies for the all-too-frequent ramblings that proceed my point, too often found here.

Last night I was able to attend an advanced screening of The Dark Knight Rises. My excitement about that opportunity could easily be rated a ten of ten, and I made no secret of it either. Half-jokingly, I had referred to this gift as, “possibly the best thing to happen to me as a result of working in advertising,” and said so repeatedly to my co-workers and friends. I was grateful for the opportunity to see it, and even a bit tickled to be able and rub my good fortune in the faces of some of my closer friends who I knew could withstand the ribbing.

Whether or not the movie lived up to my expectations is irrelevant, and the fact that I enjoyed the experience held at the Ziegfeld Theater last night has little to do with my feelings about the film itself. It was just fun to be out with co-workers, my wife, and scores of other hard-working human beings, doing something semi-unique as a group–something that also didn’t involve hard-drinking at that–a rarity in this business when it comes to large gatherings. It was nearly as perfect as that type of outing can be, and was remained on my mind this morning when I awoke.

Years ago, right after 9-11, I spent a great deal of time going to the movies. I was freelancing (read mostly unemployed), separating from my then-wife-at-the-time, contemplating career and locale changes–and taking in movies that fall was an ideal way to remove myself from real-life in order to gain an additional hour or two of sanity each day. How much sanity was derived from those treks is debatable. In those darkened cathedrals of mostly Hollywood drivel, my mind often wandered to notions revolving around the ease of mass-killings that those places could afford. No metal detectors, no sky marshalls, and not even much light for the early exposing and detection of someone packing any kind of instrument of death. The film Scream 2, had already planted the seed of movie-theaters-as-killing-zones, and coupling that with the what-ifs inspired by the attacks on the twin towers has left me always, at least once during a theater going experience, wondering what dreadful things could happen in a cineplex if a psychopath put his or her mind to it.

I never stopped going to movies, but after an opening-weekend Inception incident at Union Square, involving my wife and a patron who seemed intent on stabbing us both to death amidst a small verbal squabble,  I’ve refrained from joining the masses to celebrate the latest releases communally on opening weekends. Too much discomfort, too much friction, flared tempers and, of course, always in the back of my head: the very real possibility that some lunatic would decide to exact all manner of justifiable-only-to-him massacres there.

The latest Batman film, had I not been gifted the advanced screening thanks to Unilever, would have most definitely marked the first film since Inception worthy of definitely breaking my no-opening-weekend-viewings rule, and smack dab in the middle of whatever chaos you might find amidst all the revelry you yourself may be a part of today, tonight, and this weekend.

Facebook has been many things to me, and more and more often it is the proverbial messenger of bad-tidings. This morning it was via a friend that I learned of the last night’s incident in which a gunman killed 12 at a screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado. I didn’t want to believe it, I don’t want to believe it now. It is no more tragic than the last tragedy, but it will be fresh on our collective minds and will re-open wounds that for many had probably never healed.

I’m not here to soap-box, list the pros and cons on anything related to guns, violence, and public safety, nor do I wish to join the countless conspiracy-hacks that will try to bend this story into something that furthers their own agendas of fear-for-profit. Good luck with that Alex, it’s worked for you before, I’m sure you’ll make a few bucks with it this weekend and next week as well. But, this is the second time in a week, that a not-even-remotely-close-to-random act of violence has left me deeply concerned for the human race, the general mood of a planet, and the near complete disregard for “live and let live.” Both, and they aren’t the first two, have left me asking myself, “Is a blog that dwells in potential tragedy, even one done humorously, the best use of my time?”

The answer today, as it has always been, is I think so. I hope so. I do know that as soon as I press the publish button, there will be a part of me that feels a bit of relief for having put words on digital paper for some people to see. I don’t have to understand why this works for me, I only have to let it work for me until it doesn’t anymore.

As always, I’m exceedingly grateful for your having put your peepers to my words. Thanks.