Skull & Bones

I fly into Atlanta with too much hair on my head. It is time for a cut. My house sits across the street from the city cemetery. MLK was born here. He is buried here. So are hundreds of Confederate soldiers.

All train stations sit underneath dirty alleyways. It smells like piss and first rain asphalt. I run through.

I overshoot the MARTA. I walk a mile through Midtown. The guys here are very, very friendly. I ask one for directions.

Me: Hey. Do you know how to get to Great Clips? Piedmont? I’m lost. I just got here.
Dude: I don’t know where that is. I don’t get my hair cut by white people.
Me: Gotcha. Well, do you know…
Dude: Yeah. (Points) It’s right there. 10 blocks. You gonna cut that? You should shave your chest too.
Me: No. No way. Secret to my powers.
Dude: Yeah. It’s nice.

The city design of Atlanta would make an urban planner’s head explode. The city was designed by monkeys. Roads aren’t straight/ you can’t see street signs/ no left turn lanes/ no sidewalks/ no walking areas. It’s bad.

I walk a mile. Google lies. There is no Great Clips. It’s a barber shop. I see a guy slinking in. You guys cut hair here? Yeah. Is this the place for me? Yeah, man. Yeah.

Twelve heads turn to me. Five more are getting their hair combed, beards trimmed, heads buzzed. Clippers stop clipping. The five barbers stop in the middle of their jokes. All I hear is a TV in the corner of the barbershop.  ‘Skull & Bones.’ Like the people in the room, all the actors in the kung-fu movie are black.

Fuck it. I sit down and start reading the news on my phone. You know how you want your haircut? I don’t even have to look up to realize the young woman, short and birdlike, is talking to me. It’s on already? 90 seconds have passed and I’m in the barber’s chair. She starts buzzing, the other barbers resume swearing. The boss throws out an alcoholic who pesters me. Yeah. I’m white. There’s a sense of brotherhood here, I feel. My skin is white, my nose is big, and my hair is more African than Kofi Annan. It works. She works at my hair with the buzz buzz of her weapon. I get the best haircut of my life.

When presented with choices, it’s easy to over think the outcome. The mind runs in circles of consequences,walls of impossibilities. Biases and irrational laws of tradition hijack our sense of adventure. We choose the safe road. Anything new and innovative is read dangerously. That’s why, it helps to shut off the left side of the brain sometimes. Logic does not apply in certain cases. Failure to follow can lead to great things. It may lead to loss, but even scars tell a great story.

How to Catch a Fire

That last post left me with a slight pang of emptiness. So here, on the eve of 5770 in Jew Years, are some things to think about when you’re riding high on airplanes. If I have time I’ll  make a wallet sized graphic you can take with you and give out to strangers.

  1. Be real. Be yourself. Be aware that you’re alive and breathing and existing RIGHT NOW. Strive for authenticity. Pursue truth and the ‘who the hell am I’ question with unbridled intensity. Be fucking real. Be you and everything will shine!
  2. Be honest. Be honest with yourself. Be honest with others. Harder than it sounds, I KNOW. I had stomach pains for years because I wasn’t.
  3. Connect with the Spirit. Some call it God, Jesus, the flying Spaghetti Monster. Those in the know know that there is an intangible,  sensational force that exists in everything. Me, you, your shoes, the keyboard, this monitor, the letters in this sentence. Engage with that power.
  4. Burn a fire under it. You’re creative. You’ve got ideas. Light a fire, devote some of your creative passions to PRODUCING and bringing to life that seed in you. This is hard. But there ways to do it. Write down what you need to do to accomplish that goal. Write down what you need to CUT OUT to accomplish that goal.
  5. Be kind to others. Our biases and fears fill our hearts and make us automatically draw perceptions of others. Some are right. Some aren’t. All are unfounded. That person who looks like a complete weirdo/idiot/asshole could be a neurobiologist saving lives every day. Either that or they own a bike shop and can fix your flat. The point is, we all have gifts and talents. Imagine a world where we unconditionally loved and respected others?

My thoughts and prayers are with you Healey. I love you with all my heart and will pray for a healthy, quick recovery.

I’m moving to Atlanta, GA to finish ad school. I miss SF, but SF will have to wait.

Happy New Year everybody. I gotta go. My mom is putting on her makeup and staring at me in the face. Man. I love being home.

How to Win at Monopoly, when all you have is Baltic Avenue and $800 in fake money.

# 1 Pass and Grab

Buy up everything you can. Properties, utilities, railroads, EVERYTHING. Be an even bigger dick. Put some money on Chance and charge rent when others land on it. Don’t worry about not having enough money in the bank.  It’s early enough in the game that everyone’s still friends at the table. If you DO happen to land on Illinois Avenue and so poor you can’t afford the $24 rent, comp your friend a night stay in return at your place and you’re set.

Monopoly
NOTE: This only works in the at the early stages of the game. 45 minutes in and you’re cracking skulls to get that $6 your friend owes for sleeping in the slums of Baltic Avenue. Fuck him. You’ll need those six dollars when you gotta pay the Man in housing taxes.

# 2 Country Clubs

The other school demands more tact and patience. The prudent player skips half the board, buying property only in the real estate suck zones. A dice roll from Jail, these black holes draw in even expert players, and soon enough everyone’s getting raped at St. James.

These are the same bastards that run the high-end country clubs on Marvin Gardens & Ventnor Avenue. Less pricey than Pennsylvania Avenue, with a high mortgage, land on hotels here and you’re finished. If you manage to grab the orange, yellow, and red, you’ve got a bigger head than Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood.
Picture 7

But not all places are terrible. There is one place that offers safety, relaxation, and peace of mind. And it’s not Free Parking.

It’s Jail.

After a few trips around the board, ruthless speculation, and nonstop construction, getting incarcerated is the sweetest thing next to finding two Red Starbursts in a row. The streets aren’t safe to wander, and going to prison is the best thing that could happen to you. Smoke a cigarette, watch others sweat over Luxury Tax, practice dice – once you’re rehabilitated, pay your debt to society with only 50 bucks.

You could even write a book your experiences or lay some tracks and put out an album about your experiences. Hitler wrote Mein Kampf in prison. It only led to bigger and better things for him. (It fucked over everyone else, but hey, this is YOUR game)

jail baby

The final school of thought, which is more of a strategy pursued by retards, is to buy up only railroads and utilities, and ignore everything else. The max you’re cleaning up is $200, (that’s if you own all FOUR) so this strategy is not recommended. Unless, you’re playing with actual real-estate agents, who will draw up contracts and cut deals in order to prolong the game even further.

douche bags

In that case, put down the boxcar or thimble you’re playing with. (The thimble is choice – it’s fun to hold and provides ample distraction when that asshole to your right has to count his money after every turn), Hand your cash back to the Banker and get a new set of friends.

In my experience, Country Clubs usually wins. Unless, I’ll-Buy-Everything-I-Land-On has enough money and brains to monopolize the light blues early on. (that’s the one with Vermont Ave) That requires passing GO! Minimum 4 times, coming up big in the Community Chest, and replenishing funds at Free Parking to build some houses. It’s tough no doubt, but do that and everyone’s asking you for favors.

That’s it! Next week we’ll discuss the love triangle between April O’Neil – Michelangelo – Raphael. I personally believe April is totes asexual, but journalism comes before sexual preference. And you know damned well she’d fuck a mutant turtle for a front-page story.

Enter the Dragon

How come no one talks about Bruce Lee’s karate instructor? We think he was born with these mythical powers, but at some point, Bruce was getting his ass kicked by the older kids: Frank, that tall kid named Ken Yoo, and John Wong (the one with bad acne). They all beat the crap out of seven-year-old Bruce Lee after school in Hong Kong…and some twisted part of me takes comfort in knowing that.

larusso

My mom had us take karate lessons when were younger. Gil and I never made it past orange belt, but we still had fun dicking around in our shin guards and foot pads, breaking boards with our elbows and sending kids to the mat with a swift kick to the chest. We were likewise destroyed by older kids with mustaches during weekly sparring matches who should’ve never been let into class.

Nicky, one of the older kids – and by older, I mean 12 – would warm us up. Stretching and leaning and punching the air, i.e. wasting time. Pops was the owner and main instructor of Sherman Oaks Karate. He’s short, more heavy than set, and has maniacal Einstein hair. Frizzy and comes out from the sides. He probably has a lot of ear and nose hair too. My dad, the litigator, often runs into him waiting in line at the Encino Washington Mutual. Fuck you Chase. My bank will always be WAMU dammit.

ANYWAYS. My older brother Edahn, actually did make it far. He competed in a Kumite. Yeah, just like in Bloodsport. I was seven, and watching the jujitsu weapons competition was much more interesting. Kids my own age playing with Sais and Daggers and Spears! How fucking cool! Awestruck, I had to be pulled away to watch Edahn fight.

Edahn, under Pops’ tutelage, had quickly advanced up the ladder. Squaring off against kids from other LA studios, my heart filled with pride and acid reflux from all the soda. Meanwhile, Edahn was executing dragon sweeps and axe kicks on kids from Inglewood. The Small boys are famous for their long legs, and kids from all across the city learned their lesson that day.  Edahn was up 3-0 and moved forward. This big Asian kid came up next. No. Not Asian. MONGOL. A descendant of the Khan himself! Eight foot five, 280 lbs. at least. Danny Larusso versus Johnny from the Kobra Kai.

The fight started with points on either end. Minutes later it’s 2-2, first one to 3 wins. Sherman Oaks Karate was lighting the place up. My dad was taking pictures. My mom was putting Iraqi curses on the other team. Edahn was out for blood, cool and convincing. Gil and I were eating popcorn and confused as to what was going on, but excited when our brother dealt or received violence.

The ref started the action, and they went at it. The Mongol heaved forward for a punch. Edahn sidestepped him, then clocked the guy in the back of the neck with a ritch hand.  The ref blew the whistle. My brother was disqualified for an illegal move. Turns out Edahn was Johnny, making US the Kobra Kai.  He went home with a big trophy that came up to his knees. But I swear – when we brought that piece of fake gold and machined marble home, it towered over all of our heads.

the trip!

This weekend was full of realizations. Spent at a massive circus fair/ green fest in Santa Barbara…I don’t have any sort of system for outlining these, but here they are. Hope they make some sense! And I’m 25! Eek!  Also found a flat in the upper Haight/Ashbury area of SF! Things are moving faaaast. If anyone has any ideas (legal or not) about getting 16K to pay for school, let’s hear ’em. long live the animals! long live the panda bear!

Lessons learned from Lion Sweet Dinosaur

1. Life is intense, complicated, intricate. Yet I’ve come to a simple conclusion about this quest of fulfillment, and finding the inner self: your heart is telling you something, and it’s your mission to listen to it. Each of us possesses creative drive – the desire to make and invent things, not only in the physical sense, but we want to reinvent our environment and ourselves. I believe that deep down, the inner child in us is still talking, but we make efforts to quash its voice. Connect with it, because its still important. It was your first voice, the first time you were able to communicate ‘This is Who I Am’. For some, it’s gardening, acting, repairing cars, collecting watches. Creative actions are powerful therapies that bring us full circle, and make us feel spiritually whole. Whoever you are, BE IT. Be the person you are. Dress the part, play the part, speak the part, live the part. Be open to receptive to everything, but start with yourself.

2. True friendship and partnership is accomplished when both sides have each reached that level of ‘creative comfort.’ It’s a zone where self-expression is encouraged, judgment and criticism is nonexistent, and true beauty is shared. What I mean to say is, you’ve reached a new level of inter-action when you’re carpooling and your passenger bursts into song. It’s even better if it’s Gin and Juice by Dr. Dre. Cherish it. That person trusts you! They have accepted that you’ve accepted and will accept them unconditionally. And of course, we’re forced to ponder about the relationships that haven’t reached that space yet. Will it happen?

3. In order to fully understand something, you need to experience it yourself. Flickr, youtube, blogs, news – cheap substitutes for the Real McCoy. If I said the Italian cafe culture is great, you have no idea what the hell I’m talking about. Go out. Life is short. Experience cultures, meet new people from all walks, learn, learn, learn. To do so otherwise, to experience vicariously…You’re cheating

4. LOVE YOURSELF. Why not? Just fall in love with yourself. There’s no excuse. Even counting your flaws, you’re amazing. You’re great. You are an awesome individual. Start by loving yourself, and you’ll find it easier to love others as well. And on others…We’re all just the same creatures, existing in this world, trying to survive. We have the option to make our lives an enjoyable experience. Let’s start by self-assessment and see that by loving ourselves, fully and unconditionally, we take a step in a direction that is only positive.

5. Giving is the ultimate form of receiving. To give is it to get. Kindness is the language of reciprocity, the code to unlocking and creating strong interpersonal relationships.

Sometimes, after long, complicated days, or on days where I’m feeling lonely and that I feel I’ve been dealt the shitty card, I’ll write 10 things I’m thankful for for that day. Usually they’re positive, happy experiences! It totally works, and feels great afterwards. Another idea I suggested to my brother is writing out 5 acts of kindness you perform each day. You’ll be able to catalog and observe how you’re doing.  In the end, what really gives us satisfaction, but kindness to others?

6. Progress doesn’t happen alone. The lone entrepreneur, whether social or business, will find it difficult to succeed. Goals are realized when we work in teams. It’s faster, smarter, and we learn from one another. Be open to feedback, and don’t take critique personally. Separate yourself.

7.  Humans. We’re all the same. We are all musical notes, floating along a sheet of music. Some of us moving forward, some ringing, some resting. Staying healthy and sound is the key to progress, moving along with the flow of the orchestra that is simply LIFE.  The path to progress, and success in all forms, is achieved through kindness.  It’s a new paradigm of understanding relationships. We’re all in this together.

8. Selfishness is my impediment. Not giving is the enemy. Friendship is a beautiful concept.  It’s interdependence. Our mission is to seek.

9. I need to get back into improv. Join a group. Playing is SO much fun and doesn’t happen enough. Never forget the Earth children at LIB, singing and playing like we were 7. It’s what’s missing! Go crazy.  Without  the drugs. 🙂

10. You can find your subculture anywhere. It’s a matter of being open. To new ppl. New experiences. Newness. Music. Lands. Foods. everything. change is eternal. see it and that grow with it. If you’re not growing, you’re dying.