Thursday, May 12, 2016

Strike up the Band?

I need a whiskey stipend. I get paid well enough and all, but… What’s wrong with getting an extra $100—after taxes—each paycheck, that's devoted specifically to a good bottle of whiskey? Not a damn thing that I can see.

*blows dust off bar stool*

*pulls it out and plops down*

If anyone out there is reading this; no, you’re not seeing a ghost. I’m still around. I miss this place. TJ mentioned our old Rummy awards the other day, and my mind traced way back to 10 months ago when those were still a thing. Good times.

I think you can actually guess what happened [Well, if you’re over 30 you can; if you’re younger than that…god bless. You have no idea how things both simultaneously speed up and slow down in the years ahead. It really, really sucks a rhino’s ass.]: Life got me.

No, I’m not married. Or engaged. Or in a relationship. And no, no kids. I always thought those were the harbingers of the misery people older than me seemed to be in. But they’re just accessories to the crime. The real villain? Complacency.

I’ve grown accustomed to everything in my daily life. Wake up. Play Angry Birds. Get showered. Brush teeth. Shave (maybe). Go to work. Work. Yell at a computer screen. Work. Hate life. Come home. TV/video games. Brush teeth. Go to bed. Repeat.

Notice that writing isn’t nestled anywhere in there?

Writing is my true love. If life were a movie, writing would be the girl next door who I was cool with my whole life, messed around with in college, and then didn’t realize until my early adulthood that I truly had feelings for. We never really could find a way to put our differences aside and make it official between us. She stood by me through good times and bad; but, as time marched on and life—as it always does—got more complicated, I neglected her. And, heartbroken, she left.

I want us to be together, writing. Forever, and truly. But I’ve got to get my shit together. We both know it. And holding you back while I do that, it’s just not fair to you. So here we are, standing in the rain. Me with my 2010 Dell Insperion keyboard. You with your empty blog fields. Why can’t we just make it all right? Why can’t we make it happen?

…By the way, if you’re wondering where all of this is going, and why it’s gone where it has, then just let me say I’m in the same boat. Where are we? What day is it?

Okay, I’ll stop f’ing around with you now. The bottom line is that my drinking stories have stopped because I’m too tired/lazy/malcontent to type and publish them. The blog, as a whole, has stopped, because I can’t be bothered to squeeze time into my daily schedule to post things.

Look, I don’t want this site to die. Maybe it’s just my penchant for holding onto the past (don’t know if you’ve picked up on that from my having a blog specifically dedicated to my drinking stories…), but this site has been a big part of my life for eight plus years. When it first started in 2007, I thought that by 2016 we’d be the next BuzzFeed. We were SO close. I blame TJ, really.

TJ. He made an offhand remark months ago about me dragging out this site’s life for longer than I should have. Well, contrary to his understanding of the world, I don’t have to conform to his personal qualms with the world around him. The fact that his social and economic dynamics don’t allow him to allow himself expression through written word, and through sharing stories about his past/present, is a sad one. But it has no bearing on whether my social and economic dynamics do the same to me. So, as much as I love the man like a Jewish brother neither of my parents can comfortably explain, his opinion on this particular matter means jack shit to me.

And let no one think that it caused my withdrawal from Crooked Straight. I read it, brushed it off, and kept moving. But life… Life got me.

Maybe I’ll find my way back. Over a year ago, The Hero basically bequeathed the site to me. So it’s future, if there is one, is in my hands. And all I can tell you at this moment is: I don’t know. The first step would have to involve quitting my job. At a minimum, a change in the management structure at said job would have to happen. The second step might have to involve a winning PowerBall ticket. Of course, then I’d probably be too busy cruising the Mediterranean with my wife, Hiromi Oshima, on our mega yacht…

I’d probably hire TJ to type up blog posts for me, though.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Thank you Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, for creating On The Rocks' official theme song.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Relationship Goals (Part 2)

I really want to like these two. They both seem like amazing people, and look like they're really meant for each other. But I'm seething with jealousy that I didn't get to do this first.

...Actually, I'm really just jealous of Justin. Jill is beautiful, cool as hell, drinks whiskey, and...SHE HAS THE WORD "SIP" RIGHT IN HER LAST NAME! Justin, man, please tell me you took her name!

Relationship Goals (Part 1)

I've got friends who love sex. I've got friends who will tell you how much they love sex, and how desperate they are to have sex. Immediately. In that very moment. Like someone, anyone, please swipe all of the bottles off the top of this bar and have sex with me on it.

...And those friends are women.

The female libido is a dangerous, ravenous wild animal. So I understand Kimberly Jackson, and her struggle. From Playboy:
It was just your average day in a Norfolk, Virginia strip mall parking lot before some woman mounted an unconscious man and began having sex with him in public.

The woman at the center of it all is 36-year-old Kimberly Jackson, who was caught on camera mid-romp with her boyfriend as he lay on the ground passed out. When Jackson spoke to a reporter, she explained that this all happened because she was “drunk and horny.”

Friday, September 4, 2015

I Hate Pak (...and Myself)

Some years ago, I started a recurring joke on Twitter, tweeting “#IHatePak”. “Pak,” of course, is my homie Pakistanimal. Loud, audacious, calamitous… And that’s when he’s stone sober. Get him hammered—or, more often than not, sit back and watch him get himself hammered—and those personality traits ratchet up to unsafe levels.

I don’t truly hate the man. He’s one of my closest and most trusted friends. But I do hate how every single night at the bar with him turns into one of the worst hangovers I’ve ever experienced the next morning. And that’s not exaggeration for hyperbole’s sake; I cannot name one single, solitary instance when, the morning after he and I were hanging out at a bar, I didn’t feel like a bus full of overweight circus clowns had hit me. Because shots.

So, I hate Pak. Blah, blah, blah, I’m a grown man, and can choose not to participate in the bukkake of Fireball shots, blah. Whatever. I hate Pak.

I hate him even more because one Saturday in August, as I lay on my couch at 20 after nine, content with a boring, stay-at-home night, his name appeared on the screen of my ringing phone. And because he wanted to go out drinking. And because, when I said there was a Jam on Walnut happening up the street from me, he said, “I’ll be there by 10.”

An hour later, we dapped each other up on the sidewalk in front of my apartment building. The pause was brief—long enough for him to hand me his car keys for the night—as we then began striding purposefully in the direction of the Jam. Halfway along that journey, we met Annie.

To be more accurate, Annie met us. She was a cute, younger blonde girl of medium height, walking in a group of people ahead of us on the sidewalk. As Pak and I bs’d, she abruptly spun around and said, “Mi—oh. Hi, gentlemen.” My Pakistani friend’s voice, she said, sounded just like that of someone she’d met earlier in the night, and she thought it was him walking behind her.

Smiling and bubbly, Annie was fresh from Grand Rapids, MI. As in, she had just moved to Pittsburgh that morning. So when she realized that the voices behind her were two large, unknown brown men, she didn’t hastily retreat. Instead she introduced herself and hugged each of us. Annie just wanted as many new friends as possible.

As we accompanied her up the sidewalk, she asked for pointers about living in Pittsburgh, and in Shadyside specifically. While giving her a few tidbits to hold onto, I looked down and caught sight of her shaky footwork. Annie was struggling. With every step of her right foot, she stumbled over the low walls, stones, fences, shrubbery, etc. that delineated front yards from public walkway. She somehow kept her balance and happy demeanor, despite the constant bumbles.

And, let’s remember: she was walking towards the Jam. We caught up with her friends and then moved on without Annie.

Late August is a time of renewal in my neighborhood, as twentysomethings starting grad school or their first adult jobs have moved in, replacing the residents who’ve moved on to the house with a white picket fence in the suburbs. A big, new world is opening up for these fresh faces, faster than they know what’s happening, and the fear and excitement is alive in their eyes. Pak and I slowly waded through the high tide of youth and freedom, past the games of cornhole and beer pong, past the beer stands and sleeveless bros, past the band on stage rocking out in front of a sea of Annies.

The one main criticism that can be made about the Jams on Walnut—it’s the one you’ll hear repeatedly when talking to people who choose not to bother with them—is that the crowds in the bars are suffocating. This is where you tend to find the age 28 to 40 segment of partiers, who’ve chosen the comfort of air conditioning as an escape from the 24-year-olds and head bands. No matter how big the crowd out on the street, you can guarantee at least as many people are inside at the bar. When Pak and I walked into Shady Grove, we got as far as two feet past the door.

After ten minutes or so of flowing with the surging throng, we ended up standing behind a guy sitting at the bar with his friend. He then turned around, looked up at me, and made it clear he didn’t want any problems, by announcing, “I don’t want any problems.”

[Side note, white people: You don’t have to automatically fear every black person you see.]

I reassured him that we didn’t either, and after some slurring and clumsy daps, he offered us his and his friend’s seats, since they were leaving. As soon as we’d sat down, Pak was ordering shots. *sigh*

We were also flagged down by our buddy E. Bunnies, who quickly cheered from the corner of the bar, “I’ve got my mom with me!” A cute, tiny woman in her 50s poked her head through the crowd and waved with a big smile. A few minutes later, they’d made their way over to our spot at the bar.

“You motherfuckers meet my mom!”

Weak, Pak and I pointed out the ironic hilarity of that sentence to Bunnies. “Well, you’re not fucking my mom.”

Can’t. Even.

After a few minutes, they migrated out of Grove, headed towards another bar. As Pak and I talked with our friends behind the rail, we felt a little nudge between us. I turned to find one of the most strikingly beautiful women I’ve ever met, who was trying to get in position to catch a bartender’s eye.

She was petite. She was half-Japanese. She was genuinely funny, and wholly unpretentious. She had big, soft brown eyes that dazzled when trained on you. She was from Cali. Her name was…well, that part’s not important. Nor is the rest, really. Because she was also engaged.

“Of course,” I thought, as she mentioned her fiancĂ©. I should’ve predicted that one. But she did buy us shots. So, you know…there’s still hope.

The best thing about the Jams, without fault, is the sheer volume of women out to enjoy a summer night of music and fun. Pak’s wedding ring and my lack of fucks seemed to be attracting attention frequently. Maybe older men got it going on. Or maybe we just reminded them of their favorite uncles.

A blonde, who seemed nice enough, though she failed to meet the more shallow prerequisites that so many others were acing that night, asked to make room between us to order herself a drink. Pak and I may be superficial, but we’re still gentlemen. We yielded the breach, and I called over my boy Jed—who was bartending—for her.

When she’d gotten her drink and walked off again, Jed stopped by while filling another order. “I know who’s here, what’s going on. Don’t flag me down for her.” I assured I meant nothing by it, was just trying to be helpful. “She’s ordered three times now without tipping,” he explained. "Her friends too. Don’t help them.”

A cute friend of the blonde stepped up between us. Brown curls. Glasses. A mischievous danger in her eye.

In my head:Hmm, this is going to get delicate.

Pak offered to buy Cute Chick a shot (he really just wanted more for us; she just happened to be in the line of fire), and they struck a deal: She’d buy a round for her friends and us, and then he’d buy a round. As a bystander looking at getting two more free shots while in the presence of a good looking woman, the arrangement sounded like a win-win.

Her round was poured and distributed. We toasted and threw them back. Pak’s round was poured and distributed. We toasted and threw them back—well, most of us did. Cute Chick, instead of doing the shot, tossed it on the ground.

The fuck?

Pak was angry, but showed restraint by walking off to the men’s room. Laughing it off, she tried to explain to me that she didn’t want to do the shot.

Me: “So you couldn’t hand it to someone else? Or hand it back to him?”
Her: *shoulder shrug and giggle*
Me: “You need to fuck off.”

The blonde eventually came over and tried to defend her friend’s actions. But she was quickly flustered by her own inability to suspend logic to the point where pouring out a shot that was bought for you, after you asked for it, wasn’t childish and inconsiderate. She gathered Cute Chick and the others and moved off.

Sadly, with them went my recollection of the rest of the night. The shots got me. How ironic—brought down by the very thing I’d fought to defend.

I woke up the next morning with Pak standing in my bedroom doorway, asking for his keys. Judging by my cash-less wallet and the pain in my head, we didn’t go out quietly. But we made it home in one piece. I can only hope Annie was as lucky.

I hate Pak.

Monday, August 10, 2015


Go home Lena Dunham, you're drunk.

There's already one drunken, uncoordinated girl in my life. I just don't have room for another.

...She gets credit for not spilling the drink, though.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

My Kinda Woman

This ain't a wifey post, though. More like a "Oh hey, good morning...who are you?" post.