Category: Uncategorized

More and more companies want us storing the content we consume, not on our hard drives or phones, but in online storage lockers, commonly referred to as the “cloud”.  With the rise in popularity ( of devices( that don’t carry a robust amount of on board storage, access to cloud services for owners of these devices has become something of a necessity. The proliferation of high speed internet at home and out of the house has made these online storage lockers easier to use.  Seems like a beautiful thing: give me my data when I want it, wherever I want it. But, there remains one huge drawback: what do we do when that data is no longer “ours”?

Take Microsoft’s XBOX One( as an example. The new system does away with the normal used games model in favor of one that may keep you from sharing your favorite game with your closest friends. Up until now you’d purchase a game and were then able to resell it or loan to whomever you wished, no fuss, no muss. In an effort to profit from the used games market Microsoft will now ask users to authenticate their discs against an online profile. If that online profile has yet to purchase the game, the user may be forced to pay to use a disc he already has sitting in his possession. A new generation of gamers will be asking “I own it, but I can’t use it?”

Spotify( users are familiar with this feeling as well. The popular music steaming service allows people to create playlists and download albums to their mobile phone…..with a catch. These albums and carefully cultivated playlists go away thirty days after your last payment.  You could spend years paying to use the service and you’ll never be given the opportunity to walk away owning anything.

It isn’t limited to video games or music either. Verizon Wireless( recently released an online storage service for its customers. Text messages, photographs and other pertinent data can be uploaded to the companies servers. This is great in theory- you lose your phone or drop it in a pool, but all your important data will be there when you activate your replacement. But what if you want to leave the company? This data you hold so dear can’t be transferred between carriers without you downloading it back to your PC first.

So, how do we avoid losing access to the things we feel the need to keep? In the case of the XBOX One- vote with your dollars. In the case of music steaming services- maybe go back to buying albums. And in the case of something like what Verizon has going- your computer’s hard drive is certainly your best friend.

As internet speeds grow faster and faster cloud services are only going to get easier to use. Just be sure that this simplicity isn’t leading you down a road towards a complicated mess.


Sunday at midnight marked end of “Arrested Development’s” seven year hiatus from the air.  A sitcom that was a fan favorite and a hit with critics, but never a ratings beast, Arrested Development was brought back from the dead by Netflix, making it the DVD rental and streaming service’s first “original” series. 

This got me thinking, what other shows would I want to see return?  Sure, there’s a ton: The O.C., Seinfeld, and How To Make It In America are a few that come right to mind.  But the better question is: which potential reboots make the most sense.


This one is such a money idea I can’t believe I’m giving it away for free.  You get Jayden Smith to play a teen from the wrong side of the tracks sent to live in Bel Air; his real-life dad makes a few guest appearances; heck, even Jazzy Jeff could play the kid’s music teacher or something.  It practically writes itself. 


Netflix has 600 billion movies. (Give or take a few dozen) The guys at MST3K will watch, literally, anything.  This isn’t rocket science, here.  More, understand that not every filmmaker wants their previous creation roasted and lambasted by an overgrown banking and some puppets and the list of films they could actually use in the show get reduced drastically.  But the potential for even a few dozen more episodes of what is one of TV’S most underrated gems is well worth hurting a few feelings. 


This mid 90’s show originally aired on PBS and even though it was accessible to pretty much every American with a television, it was missed by many. GHOST WRITER was a mystery show that revoked a grip of middle school kids who, with the help of a loquacious ghost, were tasked with solving mysteries in school and their surrounding neighborhood. The nature if the show lens itself to Netflix’ binge style viewing, as kids could spend an entire day spamming episodes, tracking the cases and secretly being taught things the entire time. It’s a near perfect show for a new generation of pre teens to get hooked on, just like their parents did.

Maybe one of the big networks will take one if my ideas and run with it. Our (MUTE than likely) they’ll ignite me. But if they do wanna talk, I got 62 more episodes of The O.C. written just in case….

On Meeting Larry David

I am about to craft a lengthy blog post from the memories of a 30 second interaction.

Because I am awesome…………………………..

To the uninitiated, Larry David is the co-creator of one of televisions most successful shows ever produced.  “Seinfeld” ran for 9 seasons on NBC (1989-1998) and has been in reruns since at least 1994.  I remember being a kid and wondering what all the fuss was about.  I had seen an episode or two and didn’t get any of the jokes, didn’t understand any of the hype.  And then, one day, the Indians played an afternoon game on Channel 43 and were followed by a “Seinfeld” rerun.  I can’t tell you how it happened, or even the year it happened, but that was the day it started to click.  I laughed.  My sister laughed.  Two black kids from the fringes of the ghetto were being entertained by the words and actions of two Jewish entertainers.  We didn’t grow up being told what we should and shouldn’t watch, so to us, it was just like that time we discovered “Ghostwriter”.  But little did I know this “Seinfeld” thing would grow into a minor obsession and that that minor obsession would grow into something more like a full blown frame of mind.

Fast forward a few years to 1997.  I have just been kicked out of my mom’s house, I’m not doing well in school and I don’t like living with my dad too much.  The few things I had to look forward to on a daily basis were:  food, video games, internet porn and “Seinfeld”.  Every night at 7 and 11 pm I’d be able to catch reruns of my new favorite show and on Thursdays I’d tune in to the new ones.  At the height of this “minor” obsession I was pulling in about 12 episodes a week.  And once WGN started showing reruns an hour behind when we got em in Cleveland it grew to around 15.  In ’98, the week leading up to the series finale, I wrote an episode myself. (I guess some might call that “fan fiction”?)

The point I’m trying to make is that during my most impressionable years “Seinfeld” was the thing that made the greatest impression.  If I cracked a joke at school, during baseball practice or at my job after high school it was somehow inspired or lifted directly from the words Larry David had written.

For most of “Seinfeld’s” run Larry David was a faceless individual.  He didn’t really come to prominence until he got his own show on HBO, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”.  On that show he essentially plays himself, a caricature in some spots, but mostly it’s a dead on interpretation.  How do I know this?  Because, last Friday, as I’m leaving a book signing (where I met with Neil Strauss, my new personal hero [That’s another blog post]) I see a white guy, bald headed, horn rimmed glasses, strolling through the mall with his wife.  Now, no offense to anyone, but this is a Jewish neighborhood I’m in and there isn’t any reason to believe the gentleman I’m looking at isn’t just some normal guy.  Except, he clearly isn’t.  Not to me, anyways.  The guy I was looking at has made me laugh more times than I can count, more times than anyone else on this green earth.  And if any of you value laughter, or cherish memories from your childhood you can easily imagine my surprise when I see the man who helped deeply affect me in both of those areas.

I’m a talkative guy, I always have a smart-ass comment, a clever retort.  But I was rendered speechless for the first time in what was probably a decade.  My jaw went agape.  The man pressed forward, his wife shooting me a glance.  It was as if she had seen this all too many times and knew what was coming next.  The man looked over, also not surprised to be getting this type of reaction.  He wasn’t shy, but he wasn’t trying to hog the limelight either.  His exact words were “Ah hah, yep, yep!”  Because, of course, I asked the stupidest question you can possibly ask someone not suffering from amnesia- “Do you, you, your….?” (I was trying to say “Do you know who you are??  You’re Larry David!”  Came up a little short, though.) He gave a full wrist handshake (presumably because he’s slightly germophobic, I don’t actually know) and bounded down the escalator to the parking garage.  I stood in amazement.  A woman looked at me and smiled, she was happy that I was happy.  Everyone else just plain old went on about their business, I mean, it’s not like they were meeting their idol or anything.

My one takeaway from the whole thing?  Just when you think things are going poorly, or that they *should* be going better there’s always something to remind you that you’re in just the right place at just the right time and you don’t need to be anywhere else.  For if I weren’t living my life as I should, or if I weren’t doing the things that made me happy, I wouldn’t have met my idol either.

A common misconception about SoCal and the west coast in general is the near certainty that everyday is filled with warm, beautiful sunshine.  The sun part?  True.  The warm part?  Not so much.  I can’t quite tell how many square feet this house is but just know this:  The walls are paper thin; the owner’s a cheapskate; and the “heat” that does kick on seems to only come out of one duct on the first floor by the ping pong table.  All that means is once the sun goes down, and the night air gets chilly, so do we.  I’ve never seen more people walk around indoors with hoodies and jogging pants on than I have since I’ve moved here.

Dishes, well, they don’t really get washed.  At least not when you need them to.  The real forks get horded, stored in people’s rooms for safekeeping (not really, they’re all just selfish assholes.  Probably.) I keep a stash of plastic ones in a blue tub in a closet under the staircase.  (GOD, I wish I could imagine shit this odd.)  The current “house manager” (i.e. jobless resident who supplements rent with chores) is in San Diego so now the trash isn’t getting taken out either.

There are random movie posters all over the walls, fully framed and prominently placed.  But, there’s no rhyme or reason to any of it.  We have “Bride Wars”, “War”, “Deja Vu” and some old 60’s joint, the name of which escapes me.

The lights have been halved in every area possible.  Meaning, well, let’s take the large bathroom for example.  It’s around 300 sq. feet on it’s own, fucking huge.  Supported by two lights, one in the shower, one in the dead center of the room.  The one near the sink has been “disabled”. Problem with that?  You can’t see ANYthing happening in the mirror.  Shaving?  Nope.  Trimming your nose hair?  Nope.  Want to know where the pimples are to put your acne cream on?  Better have a flashlight app on your phone. (Of which I’ve made good use lately.)

Two people have moved in after me and in a few short breaths two more are moving out within the next 10 days.  It’s gonna be odd, however long I’m here, getting used to making connections with folks whose lives hang by the same tenuous threads as mine.  As quickly as they go, so could I………………….

Or so it feels that way.  I feel like Will Ferrell’s character in “Stranger Than Fiction”, like I’m a character in someone else’s book and I’m only here for the reader’s amusement.

I won’t exaggerate the week’s events, there’s no need to, this all really happened or is currently happening.  Revel in the hilarity that is my life………………………….

Tuesday, March 1st

With my roommate needing to return home because of an emergency and me unable to find someone to sublet the bedroom to we were forced to break the lease on our apartment 6 months early.  I found a place, reasonably priced and in the neighborhood that I had grown fond of over my time in LA.  We pack the first run of my belongings into the backseat of his BMW and proceed to move me into my new place.  I call the guy subletting the room to me, he meets us at the back door and in we go.  I snake my way into (what I assumed was) my new bedroom pop open the door and what do I see?  The “previous” tenant’s belongings were still in place, unpacked and very much not in shape to move anything anytime soon. The three of us agree “Oh, he must just be coming to get all that tonight.”  So back to the apartment we go to pick up run number two.  Not even in the door for more than 20 seconds I receive a phone call from my “new” “Landlord”.  The guy that was supposed to be leaving and moving in with his “mates” from Australia wasn’t doing that and I needed to grab my things and find someplace new to live.  So, let’s recap: Breaking the lease on my old apartment and unable to move into my new one equals…………………….. HOMELESSNESS!!!!!!!!  Or, so I thought.  We frantically re-pack my stuff into the BMW and head to the nearest Starbucks to use their wi-fi so I can use my roommate’s laptop to check Craigslist for anyone showing a rental immediately.  I sent some emails, made some phone calls, but found nothing I could view that evening.  I did come across a few Hostels, dorms for “transient” adults.  They’re mainly geared towards foreigners backpacking through the SoCal and space for regular folk like me is rather sparse.  How much does a room for a “transient” adult such as myself cost??  Anywhere from $65-$85 a night. Not to mention I still have all that crap I need store until I find a permanent spot.  The hostels were a no go.  It was just cheaper to stay in our current apartment and pay the pro-rated rent, around $49 per day, on top of our early termination fee.

Wednesday, March 2nd

I returned some email messages, returned some calls and was able to set up a few appointments for Thursday.  I sold some phones.  I ate some chicken.  I said stupid stuff on twitter.  Wednesday was a fairly normal day……………………………..

Thursday, March 3rd

Which pretty much was a giant fucking set up because Thursday was just a mindfuck.  My first appointment was at 10 am, 5 blocks north of my current location.  “IT’S TWO BLOCKS FROM THE SUNSET STRIP, HOW BAD CAN IT BE?” I said to myself.  Well, let’s just say Hollywood isn’t what we were told it was when we were kids.  I don’t know that its ever been.  But this, this was…………. It’s a  6 bedroom, 3 bath…….. that houses……….. 20 people.  The ceilings were exposed (like my basement was off of 147th), the kitchen had 3 refrigerators, the rooms had paper thin plywood for walls.  I mean, they made rooms where there weren’t ever supposed to be rooms.  The laundry room was outside (even for SoCal it was in a weird spot for a house).  And to top it off the options for my bed were in a tiny crevice upstairs meant for 4 people or…………………….. in the same room as the 45 year old mexican maid/landlord’s aunt.  (I wish I were making this up.)  I said some nice things to the guy who showed me the place and got in the car hoping the next spot would blow me away.  Yes, I was desperate, but I still had standards, ya know? And oh yeah, I became and uncle for the 6th time that morning.  All at once, all day I felt happy, sad, nervous, excited, determined, doubtful, worried, hopeful.  So, the second location (this day felt like all the worst excerpts of ‘Million Dollar Listing’ they could put together) was up near the “Upright Citizen’s Brigade”, how bad could it be!?  (Fool me twice, is that what they say?)  Look, I grew up in the ghetto.  Went to school in the ghetto.  Played baseball in the ghetto.  But I have never and will never be “ghetto”.  Also, I love my people, but some of you all have got to be doing  just a “lil” better.  I say all this because the guy who showed me the second place was either: A) A film student who likes to smoke a lil weed and is just trying to make it in LA like the rest of us; or B) A drug dealer who uses Craigslist ads as a way to sell his product or trick people into checking out the place so he can hem them up and rob them.  Either way, I wasn’t having it. (PRO TIP: If you want someone to rent your place do not have 1) Your shirtless, tattooed “brother” hanging out at the kitchen counter or 2) Some random dude that you pretended to not know but who really lives in the bedroom ask me to see this awesome “closet.”)  I marinated on the situation, do I look for more places or do I just roll with the house that reminds me of “The Real World” on steroids??  I needed to make a move and get this over with so I chose to move in with the mexican woman.  She doesn’t speak english, she let me have a TON of closet space and she lets me watch “The Walking Dead”, so, it aint all bad.

There’s more, but I’m tired, so I’ll tell you guys about the rest tomorrow.

It’s been one year.

One of the main measures that we as humans use to define growth, the “Year” mark is always looked upon with a certain type of reverence.  Sports seasons take place in years, birthdays come every 12 months.  No one cares much if you’ve kept the weight off for 7 months, but tell them a “year” and you’ll notice the level of praise they offer go up tenfold.

It’s been one year.  One year since I left home.  One year since I shattered the glass bubble my comfort zone provided.  One year since I told my family, friends, co-workers and acquaintances that I was moving clear across the United States and into the belly of the environment that I hoped would give birth to a new me.

It wasn’t always easy.  There were bouts of loneliness, a lack of confidence, being broke and not having the safety net I called “Mom” to bail me out.  I did my first bit of freeway driving on California’s petrifying highways, swallowed a few ounces of the Pacific Ocean and choked on the smog that layers this great state’s upper (and at times lower) atmosphere.

There was an earthquake.  And then another.  And one more for good measure.

I fully realized what the term “minority” meant as on most days in Orange County I was the only black guy I’d see.

I even pulled a total “O.C” move and made friends with a rather attractive, older, blonde woman.  Though this one didn’t put out nearly as much as Julie Cooper did.

There were days I felt like a hero.  To my nieces and nephews.  To my crew.  To my brother and sisters. (To my big sis Neicy: Absence does make the heart grow fonder, I love you more now than I ever did. 🙂  Vida and Ern, ya’ll are at the same level.  Sorry.)

There were days I felt like a failure.  Like (and sorry to crib Drake here) I was lying to the people I had promised success to.

Days where I walked 40 minutes in 90 degree heat just to make it to work on time.  And the 2 separate six week periods where I didn’t have a job.

The girls who moved on once I skipped town (still got love for you though, Heather.  Shana, not so much……….).  And the girls who came back around after being out of touch for nearly a decade.

The thing that kept going through all that was the feeling of bigness, like this giant ball of sunshine and opportunity named Southern California held everything and anything I could have ever wanted.  And also because I promised myself that I’d give my mom the life she deserved.

There’s a smile on my face when I walk out the door.  When a customer makes a rude remark.  When the cute cashier doesn’t text me back.  When the guy in the Mercedes gets impatient as he waits for me to cross the street.  When my idol moves in across the street and seriously puts a cramp in whatever limited game I already had (this toast’s for you, Michael Sorrentino!)

I smile because everything I want out of life lay right in front of me.  And from my high rise apartment I look out at it everyday of the week, a constant motivator and reminder of the reason I got on the plane in the first place.

But to answer the question that is the title of this post, “where have I been?”, I guess I’d have to say nowhere really.  I’m still on the way there.

Hype.  Intrigue. Curiosity.  There are many ways to go about describing the emotions that surround the propulsion of a young athlete into the national consciousness.  Last night, baseball’s newest phenom Bryce Harper took to the stage in his first collegiate contest, nationally televised on ESPNU. Not even 18, Harper has found himself on screens in bars and homes around the country for the better part of the last two years. 

The debut couldn’t have happened at a better time for baseball junkies such as myself, as it gives us something to salivate over in the winter months that doesn’t involve contracts, fan fests or illegal streams of Venezuelan baseball.

I contemplated how I should commemorate the moment.  First stop was Wikipedia.  I needed to know why a hot-shot phenom would go to some “no name” JUCO.  But finding out that the College of Southern Nevada was in fact an NJCAA powerhouse wasn’t enough.  Next stop was YouTube, where I watched a couple videos, including the ten minute ESPN feature from a few months back.  Again, the beast could not be sated.  I decided just knowing about the man, the myth, the legend in the making wasn’t enough.  No, I had to take it one step further.  To I went.

It was at this point that I realized the absurdity of it all.  Here it was, not even 3/4 of the way through this kid’s FIRST collegiate game and I was gonna go and buy his school’s cap?  Not just any ‘ol Division one lid either.   This was an NJCAA school we were talking about.  It’s engrained in our American DNA the desire to be first, to know something before everyone else, to be the guy that gets the inside joke.  I didn’t really want the cap anymore than high school kids really need a new pair of Air Jordans.  What I really wanted was to be able to tell my baseball buddies “Yeah, I BEEN had that hat.  What rock have you been living under?!?”

I got a feeling Bryce Harper is going to have a fine career, at least, by the standards of the average major leaguer.  But to go ahead and even anoint him as the next Matt Weiters would be an awfully large stretch.  Maybe the fans, scouts, writers and networks can take their/our feet off of the gas a bit and give Mr. Harper a chance to earn the headlines and the airtime.  Heck, even the cap purchases.

The fun starts at around the 4 minute mark.

2009 has gone into the record books as the year of redefined “pop” music.  No longer is it reserved for those who prefer music that lacks substance or for those who list their favorite songs as whatever the pop radio station plays.  Quality pop music reared its head all over the musical landscape from bands like Cobra Starship, La Roux and Passion Pit to solo artists such as Kid Cudi and Lily Allen. 

So it’s only fitting that this year’s Song of the Year be awarded to……………….. an Alternative Rock band. 

“Panic Switch”, Silversun Pickups, 2009 Song of the Year

Epic.  That’s what I’d use to describe “Panic Switch” in one word.  Everything about the song seems big.  The emotions and how they swing from verse to chorus and back again.  The lyrics and how lead singer Brian Aubert makes you feel like there’s almost too much to take.  All this passion and emotion condenses in the first two verses, leading you to the bridge, where the most appropriate release imaginable occurs.  To listen to this song and to get this song is to feel the release with them.  Your emotional breakdown is theirs.  Theirs is yours.  I believe the best music has the ability to physically affect you, to creep inside of your head and for five minutes make you a part of the journey.  It is that quality that vaults “Panic Switch” into the same realm as “Teen Spirit”, “The Distance”, and “We’re All to Blame”.  Panic Switch isn’t just the best song of 2009, its one the very best songs of the last ten years.

And now, the rest of the top 17:

 “3 AM”, Eminem
 “Medicate”, AFI “If Rap Gets Jealous”, K’Naan
 “There’s No Secrets This Year”, Silversun Pickups
 “Kingdom of Rust”, The Doves
 “I’m Not Your Toy”, La Roux
 “Black Heart Inertia”, Incubus
 “The Reeling”, Passion Pit
 “Isis Unveiled”, ….And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
 “The Ballad of Hugo Chavez”, The Arkells
 “Know By Now”, People In Planes
 “Rusted From the Rain”, Billy Talent
 “How I Got Over”, The Roots
 “Where Did All The Love Go?”, Kasabian
 “No One Sleeps When I’m Awake”, The Sounds
 “Dirtee Cash”, Dizzee Rascal

I wanna thank everyone who actually looked forward to this and to everyone who’s been inspired to go and download some of this stuff.  It was a great year for music, a ton of cool shit, and I absolutely can’t wait to do it again! 

Oh, what’s that you said?  There’s a new Vampire Weekend record out?  Yeah, 2010’s already off on the right foot!

Don’t forget, (well, you didn’t really know) in approximately one month we’ll go over the best of the decade in nearly every category imaginable.  The last ten years began with Creed and ended with the Silversun Pickps, but I’m gonna back and reminisce about what happened in between.  Stay tuned!

Concept albums are generally a good idea.  When a band or artist lacks inspiration or their current act has gotten stale it’s an awfully great crutch to fall back on.  It allows them to create a series of characters and focus only on telling stories revolving around that group.  There’s no need to differentiate from what they do best since the nature of the concept album allows the artist to repeatedly touch on similar themes throughout the disc.
Enter Eminem, 2007 edition. 
Coming off of a fairly serious drug addiciton, Eminem reached that point in a star’s career where he can either: keep doing the same old thing, falling behind the times, thus making himself irrelevant; or, he could try something new, or slightly innovative and hope that the avant garde style that brought him to prominence had one more lap in the gas tank. 
After nearly two years of work, 2009’s “Relapse” is a bit of both those ideas.  It’s still Mr. Mathers, it’s still over the top, still shocking, but this time he dials in as his alter ego “Slim Shady” from the jump and never takes the character’s hands from off the steering wheel.  He uses the idea of the concept album to parallel the addiction and subsequent rehab of “Slim Shady” against the one he experienced in his own life.  What ensues is a journey of enlightenment into the things that helped produce an individual who advocates raping drunk 15 year olds, and who aspires to murder celebrities.  (Shady takes one last dig at Christopher Reeves, promises Nick Cannon a beatdown and he even asks Lindsey Lohan to call the cops because someone is breaking into her home and he hasn’t had chance to finish murdering her yet.) 
Underneath the hood of all of this questionable lyrical content is the thing that makes me feel guilty for liking the album so much: the music.  Dr. Dre has once again done what Dr. Dre so easily does.  He’s made half of a record, immaculate in it’s production and handed over the reigns to Mr. Mathers to say and do what he pleases on top of it.  Any one of these songs could be a groovy, funk laden instrumental, but Eminem finds a way to contort the rhythms into the sickest rhymes imaginable, giving seemingly “windows down, bass up” music a very “holy crap, I don’t want people to know I like this” kind of vibe.
Eminem may not have actually relapsed after his rehab in the same manner as his alter ego, but it feels like so much of his brain and emotion were left all over this record.  The passion that he showed at the beginning of the decade seems to have returned, in a slightly different, more adult form.  Only question is, has America grown up with him?

“3 a.m.”, Eminem

Taken out of context it’s reasonable to assume that someone listening to “3 am” for the first time could dismiss it as crude, crass and classless.  But snap judgments such as that are what mask our society’s most beautiful things.

The song walks you into the mind of Eminem’s alter ego “Slim Shady”, a fragile individual recently released form rehab, who’s probably better suited for a few more months locked away, this time in a psych ward.  The song is more than just a four minute shock fest, as it and the intro that comes prior deal with the hasty nature with which some disturbed individuals are pushed back into society.

Pure and simple, above all else, it’s just a clever song.  The wordplay may deal with murder, masturbation and public execution, but there isn’t any other artist that could deliver this type of content with any sort of conviction. “3 am” is THE concept song on THE concept album of 2009.