Monday, June 30, 2008

Can You Hear the Drums, Fernando?

"Cometh the hour, cometh the man."
--Andy Gray

Nearly two days later and I'm still pumped for Spain and Fernando Torres. I watched the final again today. A victory for beauty over industry, for flair over cynicism. And nothing is more satisfying in the sports world than a team (or country) shedding a "Choker" label, particularly when those characterizations are unfair.

It had been a spotty tournament for Torres. He only netted twice and a case could be made he should have had half a dozen others. He was subbed in every match he started and if he didn't outwardly pout, the firm set of his jaw showed his displeasure.

All washed away with a moment of otherworldly brilliance. Every criticism. Every blade of poor luck. Forty-four years.

He had no right to get to the ball before the hapless Philip Lahm. He ate up the yards two-to-one and at maximum pace, fully stretched, he managed lift the ball over Lehmann and then lift himself over the keeper's hurtling mass in a display of balance rivaling a world class ballet dancer.

Felicidades España and El Niño.

This is What You Should Have Gotten Me For My Birthday

You may recognize the three guys in yellow shirts. They are, for the uninitiated, from left to right, Steve McManaman (only my favorite footballer ever), legendary Liverpool striker Robbie (God) Fowler and some French guy (kidding of course, the classy Thierry Henry).

The guy in the blue shirt in the foreground? My buddy Steeno.

I envy him with every molecule of my body.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Vini, V.D., Vici

I came, I saw, I cankered.

That's an old Saturday Night Live joke. Tim Kazurinsky, I believe. Early 80s. Don't know what made me think of it, but the smeared back mirror at Jumbo's, and the fact the place seems 20 years out of time might have had something to do with it. But I'm getting ahead of myself.


I screwed up the first decision of the day, opting for Wilshire instead of the 10 on my jaunt westward to 90210 from downtown L.A. I forgot to check SigAlert Dot Com beforehand and since it took me an hour to get to The Puncher of Donkey's swank-ass Residence Inn, I'm guessing I took the long way. No matter. This is L.A. We had a meet and greet at 7:30, which, if you've seen "Swingers" means 9 p.m. I forgot that part, too, as I forewent my planned quickie (I'm talking about a workout here) in the hotel fitness center for a Newcastle and a shower and a free ride to the Formosa Cafe.

DP went seersucker and linen. I opted for v-neck and sportcoat.

We got off on the wrong foot with the bartender because he thought the old lady and the minor who came in right behind us were part of our party and when they ignored his edict that the kid couldn't sit at the bar, he got all huffy thinking we, too, were brushing him off. He apologized when it all became clear and dropped a heavy Jameson's pour on me by way of amends.

The Formosa Cafe is so old that because of the heat outside, the draft beer was all warm.

We sat there an hour before anyone else showed up. That translated to three whiskeys and three filet mignon sliders. That's right, filet mignon sliders.

We sat there another hour before we stopped sitting there and moved across the street to Jones Cafe where our Party of Now-Eight swarmed the bar like the it was the Beach at Normandy, if the Beach at Normandy were a topless beach. They said it would be an hour for a table to accommodate our size (exact words, ladies), so we ate at the bar. That's when we came up with Danny Manning.

The women were all about 15 years under my preferred demographic. The men, this was West Hollywood after all, were just about right.

I had pizza and Amstel Light. The jukebox was awesome. I know this 'cause DP said it sucked. And also, I heard KISS's "Dr. Love" and AC/DC's "High Voltage" while I was there, songs I used to play repeatedly on 8-track. In the back yard. Using a tennis racket for a guitar.

On to The Village Idiot, which, far as I know, is not named after me. "There's one for ya," DP said, and he was right. Mid-30s at least. If not in my wheelhouse, at least a pitch I can handle. Just bravado, though. I get scared talking to girls. They're so pretty. So we just stood on the other side of the bar from what we termed "Gay Corner," lest we be tempted by mesh shirts.

In true "Swingers" fashion, we bailed from there, too. "Dead tonight," said our fearless, intricately-coiffed leader.

Next was Three of Clubs, a formerly (key foreshadowing word, "formerly") hip nightspot on Highland. I have not been inside its environs in eight years, three months and 28 days. Approximately. Actually, the reason I remember the exact date I last graced the club is because it was on the night of my wedding to X.

It was not my choice to go there, though stepping inside did not tilt me. And nobody had a panic attack that required a 911 call.

Someone said the clientele was gathered for Slump Buster Night. True. Also, all the patrons seemed to have come from East L.A. They all talked like Oscar de la Hoya. We lasted one beer.

Four blocks north was "The Bowery." We drank PBRs out of cans. Some people--not your lightweight narrator--had shots. We heard "Dr. Love" again (what's with that?). Really, just killing time before the Main Event.

Jumbo's Clown Room.

It's a strip club, but since nobody's doing any stripping, nor are they showing skin beyond PG-13 (the only visible nipples were poking out under DP's linen), that's something of a misnomer. One stage. One pole. Five ladies in rotation, one song and done. Mysterious substances on the back wall, which is mirrored, like somebody smeared hand lotion (not me!) or toothpaste on it. With all the High End Stripper experience of my readership, y'all might wonder what the hell the is the fascination? Hard to say. But there was a line to get in.

Maybe it was the acrobatic stylings of the Korean girl, who danced one song to Snoop Dogg and had clearly choreographed the whole number complete with gang signs. It was more like Zumanity (with lotion on the mirrors) than Spearmint Rhino. We did our part, sitting off in the (not gay) corner and chucking wadded up singles (Rain Dance!) onto the parquet stage and making fun of the clientele with hairdos that would have embarrassed Gene Simmons.

Naturally, we shut Jumbo's down.

Which is when the fun ended because all that was left for me was an interminable cab ride (at least 45 minutes) back to the hotel for four hours of tortured (drunk) sleep before I had to get back home to parent hungover. The best way to parent hungover when it's 108 degrees outside? Take the kid to see a movie, in a sweet, sweet, air-conditioned theater, and sleep through the film. It was "Get Smart." I'm sure I didn't miss anything.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Lean and Mean and Not Too Far Between

Musings and Updates before hitting Jumbo's Clown Room tonight with DP. He hangs out with Derrick Rose last night and now he gets to hang out with me. How lucky can one mofo be? Though I am glad he got that autograph shit out of the way. That's not how we do it here in the City of Angels with our reliance on cultivated ambivalence toward celebrities.

(Does not apply to Salma Hayek.)

Been watching the whole of Euro '08 on TiVo the past 13 days. Helluva tournament. Just a couple stinkers and some seriously flowing play. The manner in which the Russians tooled up Sweden the other day was beautiful. The Dutch and their emphasis on positive football is a shining light in the international game. Though I suppose if I had that highly-suspect back four, I'd sub in attacking players like Robben and Van Persie with a one-goal lead, as well. Best defense is sometimes a good offense. The Turkish comeback against the aging Czechs, who looked not a day under the century mark in the last half-hour (and I like the Turks today v. Croatia, too). Just a fabulous set of games so far (France and Austria excepted).

I'm down another belt hole. That's two in 64 days if you're counting. I'm looking pretty fucking lean for a guy about to turn 41. At least until DP buys jello shots tonight.

Belated, but no less heartfelt congrats out to 125 Pounds of Brick-Defying Fury for his Razz cash, Ignatious J and LJ for their Main Event seats and Casey Aldridge for his pipe-laying (hat tip thg).

AJ was supposed to be in Cancun this week with his mom, the fiance and his kids. They did not actually go, which is absurd on so many levels. I felt terrible for AJ, who has been talking about this trip for months, while at the same time being amused and angry at X for being such a numbskull. See, they were an hour away from their flight when she realized AJ's passport had expired. Detail-oriented, she is not. Pretty much in character. If you need more proof, she booked the trip both a week early (AJ's school actually ended THIS week, not last) and they were scheduled to depart on Father's Day.

You can't make this stuff up, people.

Triple-digits in the Southland for the third straight day. If you need me this weekend, I'll be by the pool.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


I am prone to instant inspiration, especially where sports are concerned. In 1976, after watching Frank Shorter win a silver medal in the Marathon at the Montreal Olympics, I laced up my shoes and went to the local high school. I ran around the track pretty much until I puked. A couple weeks later, after seeing a brief in the local paper, I ran in an AAU Junior Olympics cross country race and finished 10th out of more than 100 participants, my only experience as a "runner" being the recent battles with the cinder track at Granada High.

(Interestingly enough, these AAU races were qualifiers, so when I finished 10th, I was one of 20 who moved to the next level--a regional race three weeks later--where I finished 13th, and again qualified for the next step, a semi-final to be held in Vegas, one rung below the National Championship. Alas, I was not able to attend and because of soccer, little league and other sports, my running career stalled until junior high track and field).

One of the thoughts that came to me during the last couple months of regular exercise was that I'd love to play soccer again. I've been feeling fitter than I have in years, many of the moves in my regular routine are similar enough to the muscle needs of the game, or can easily be tweaked to be soccer-centric and while I'm stridently sticking to my daily routines, I am getting kind of bored doing the same moves over and over again. I have always preferred games, competition, over solitary workouts, as my physical endeavor. Still, I thought it best to wait until I'd completed the 90-day program, to make sure there were no interruptions.

Then Euro 08 started. Dammit. Can you even imagine the trouble I could get in if Frank Shorter were starting for Austria? Or if England had actually made the field (eat my farts, Steve McLaren)?

When I sent the e-mail to Julian, I told myself it was just to give him a heads up, a sort of, "Hey, I'm interested in getting out there again, maybe in the fall, I'm kind of fit, if anything comes up, let me know." I played with Jules for ten years, often as partners in the center of midfield and I knew two important things about him. One, he plays on like 14 teams (slight hyperbole, but if he has fewer than six games a week, I'll be damned) and two, he lives closer to me than the last league I played in, which was 45 miles away and pretty much an all-day commitment that I am, at my advanced age, no longer willing to make. So I asked, "Any teams/leagues out my way?"

I could not have imagined that I'd be starting in the center of defence less than 36 hours later at a pristine pitch--Field Turf, not grass--less than 10 minutes from my house.

I had suited up against a number of these players before. Their team name is well-known in the area. A bunch of over-30 guys, which is charitable to some, who are WAY over-30 guys, good players, nice group, attractive tactics. I felt right at home, though the league is All Ages and our (duh, Latino) opponents were all south of their third decade. I got in about 65 minutes. We won 3-2. I passed the audition.

"How do you feel about tournaments?" John, the manager, asked post-game.

"Depends," I said, nodding toward AJ. "If it's not a Daddy weekend, I'm in."

"We're playing Santa Barbara in August, over-30 division," he said. "You over 30?"

"I'll be 41 in 3 weeks."

He looked shocked. I gave him my "Clean Livin'" smile.

"You look terrible for 25," he said. "But pretty good for 40."


"See ya next week?"

"Hell yes."

Monday, June 09, 2008

The Doctor is In

Even from his misted bungalow at Sin City's hot new resort, Sheckytown, Dr. Pauly still manages to get out a June edition of Truckin' featuring lots of bad beat stories and hookers (male and female) and blow and...wait....wrong publication.

Go read these. Then, of course, refresh The Tao every seven minutes for all the Hot Vegas Action.

June 2008, Vol. 7, Issue 6

Welcome to the birthday issue of Truckin! We have now been around for six years.

1. Ikeaphobia by Paul McGuire
I kept imagining Swedish people in Sweden coming home from their Swedish jobs and sitting down on their Swedish couches and eating Swedish meals cooked in Swedish pans and served on Swedish plates... More

2. The Crucification of Kaminsky by Betty Underground
The diet pills made her skinny. Made her feel excepted in the land of the beautiful. The speed getting her through the days. Coke came at night, when she needed to escape her own mind. Her past... More

3. One Night Out, Part I by Sigge S. Amdal
I noticed that I wasn't alone in the alley, and I looked up quick enough to see a prostitute coughing up a recognizable white substance. She looked up and for a brief time our eyes met. Only one window apart earlier, but out here we were both equally being sick. It was a strange moment of solidarity... More

4. The Reason Why... by May B. Yesno
The place had a less than classy name, The Roamin Gardens, to say little of the fact the only garden about it were two fake, potted palm trees at the front door. A typical sleazy pick-up joint. One in which you feel like everything you touch you can pick-up most anything... More

5. Drafting Richard Petty by Drizz
Imagine starting every day with these heavy chains pinning you to Davy Jones' Locker, and having zero motivation to try to swim to the surface because those depths didn't provide any sunlight to reach... More

6. FLASHBACK - Fukuoka, Phishy City by Tenzin McGrupp
The workers are tiny Japanese girls who wear the most adorable white and red uniforms and lovely white gloves cover their tiny hands. They greet you with big smiles and sing a nice happy song to you as the customers pay... More

What a Long Strange Trip It's Been...

From the Editor's Laptop:

Welcome to the special birthday issue of Truckin'. We turned six this month. Man, I'm still socked that we're still operating on this little corner of the web. The last year was one of the best to date. I want to personally thank everyone who has been involved with Truckin', especially over the past twelve months.

This issue includes some of your favorite writers include Sigge S. Amdal, Betty Underground, and May B. Yesno. Drizz makes his Truckin' debut with a touching piece. I wrote something about Ikea and this issue also includes a flashback from the very first issue when I wrote a story about following Phish in Japan. I used my pen name... Tenzin McGrupp.

If you have friends, family, or co-workers that love the written word, then please tell them about your favorite Truckin' stories. It takes only a few seconds to pass along the URL. The writers certainly appreciate your support.

Also, feel free to shoot me an e-mail if you know anyone who is interested in being added to the mailing list or if you are interested in becoming a Truckin' author.

Thanks again to everyone who wasting their precious time with Truckin'. And special thanks goes out to all of the Truckin' writers who shared their blood work and exposed their naked souls for free. Thanks for inspiring me and taking a tremendous leap of faith with me.

Be good,

"The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say." - Anais Nin

Published by Truckin' Staff at 6/05/2008 12:02:00 AM | Permalink

Friday, June 06, 2008


X admonished me the other day. "Why weren't you this way when we were married?" Oddly, she said this soon after she said, "I like your shirt," and "Those sunglasses look good on you," and "Your shoulders are getting big."

She clearly didn't realize the tilt the question would inflict upon me. I thought it was insensitive. I told her so. Even moreso, it was fucking ironic.

What spawned this hot probe? My wanderlust. I don't want to live here any more. Number of reasons. Soulless corporate exurb. The tenuous nature of the industry in which I am employed. The bubbling desire to find a niche where I belong instead of hemmed in between my neighbors, lovers of 4x4s and neck tattoos. At the most basic, it's time for a change.

The reason I feel like I can make such a move right now is because I'm not running away from anything. I am, for lack of a better term, peaceful. I'm taking care of business (every day). My days of spending all my blood on the concerns of others are through. I'll not deny myself, mask my own needs and wants, in pursuit of others and theirs. Which has left me with a singular question.

What ARE my needs and wants?

I admit to you, I had no answer to this question when I first posed it. Face and brain more empty than the Seattle Mariner trophy case ("There's no fucking easy way out of this!"). By now, I have some suspicions.

One of them is I want more experience and to get it in a manner that is initially terrifying. Out on the last limb. Not thinking about why I CAN'T do it, but the reasons I should.

The complication, of course, is AJ. I won't leave him. In the conversation where I mentioned half a dozen places where I would like to start looking for jobs, X gave a thumbs up to each. But she won't leave. Because The Douchebag won't. Because he's "established" here.

Get the irony?

She laments that I wasn't more open to adventure/moving/limb walking, yet she is consigning herself to a person who is confident in the depth of his roots and will be going nowhere for the next 20, 30 years. Won't even entertain the idea of moving to be near his children (Austin, TX, for the record and I'd totally move there so April could be my designated driver).

All of which leaves me with a life out of my control, in the hands of someone with whom I've no connection at all. This, ultimately, will not stand.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Triple Crown Memories

Subtitled: Suck it East Coast Douchebag Racing Establishment.

You too, Pat Day.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Bankroll Management

Overheard on the train:

Older Lady: When are you going to Vegas?
20-something Male: I don't know.
Older Lady: I thought you were going soon.
20-something Male: I was, but I don't have any money.
Older Lady: Oh.
20-something Male: I went to Morongo (local Indian casino) on Saturday night.
Older Lady: What were you doing out there if you don't have any money?
20-something Male: Trying to win money for Vegas.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

AJ Rakes

There's nothing quite like the sound of wood connecting with horsehide, except for aluminum on soft t-balls and the pride in your boy's voice.