You get to decide

World Class

For the handful of readers that’ve been reading me since the beginning, I started this blog because I was dating this fairly well-known reporter and we broke up.

I thought I loved her, the way 20-somethings think love is like.

We had moments when I thought we might get back together but it wasn’t really what either of us really wanted. It wasn’t really her fault, I wasn’t a great boyfriend to her.

The ex, back when I was young and had a lotta hair.

I wanted Alison and I spent the next two years looking for her. When I met her, I was a lot nicer to her than the reporter because she was what I actually wanted.

Alison was everything I ever really wanted, actually. But that’s neither here nor there.

I mentioned to a friend that Jeff Bezos went to Princeton to study theoretical physics. The problem was that he was good at it.

Just like I was a good boyfriend to the reporter. I just wasn’t a great boyfriend to her. And Jeff Bezos wasn’t a great theoretical physicist.

The day Jeff Bezos realized that he was only ever going to be a good theoretical physicist was the day he started to become something great.

Asked another friend if he recognized anyone from the that picture you see above.

Him: Not really.
Me: Look at the fella in the middle. In the red sequins. That’s Dr. Dre.
Him: Holy shit!

Dr. Dre was part of a boy band called World Class Wreckin’ Cru (along with DJ Yella) and they sang funk. But WCWC was only ever going to ok – good-enough.

And Dre wanted to be great. He’s almost a billionaire right now. Even if you didn’t like NWA, or The Chronic, you probably like Beats headphones.

I told two people today that their setbacks might be setting them up for what they were really meant to be. Who they were really meant to be.

After all, you can’t shoot an arrow unless you draw it back first.

Alison’s favourite author was F. Scott Fitzgerald who once said: There are no second acts in American lives.

I always loved Alison and always hated Fitzgerald. Onea the reasons is that quote, which is fulla shit.

Him: I’ve been thinking a lot about who I used to be and I don’t want to be that guy anyone. I don’t think I can be.
Me: Good. This is your chance to be the person you know you can be. You get to decide what your life is like.

I only got to live the life I always wanted for five days.

But, I suppose that there are people out there that didn’t even get that.

At least, that’s what I tell myself.

Podcast Version
Location: early this morning, having some rum with my coffee
Mood: not well
Music: On silver stars I wish and wish and wish (Spotify)

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Blogarama - Observations Blogs

The unexamined life

Building walls

Back when I was still focused on Alison, there was a young man named Rich who was just enamored with Trump.

Him: He wants to build a wall, protect the workers here.
Me: But most people don’t come into the US in a way where a wall would work.

It turns out that, the wall had been conceived by two consultants “to get Trump to remember to talk about immigration.”

Put another way, it wasn’t meant to ever be a literal thing, it was just meant as a shorthand to keep someone as jawdroppingly stupid as Trump on the right page to have something to talk about with immigration.

But he took it and ran with it.

Even though it didn’t make any sense. Even thought it didn’t do what it was ostensibly meant to do – keep out immigrants – it did what it was really meant to do, which was keep Trump talking about immigration.

You’ll note that he never mentions it or the wall anymore. But I digress.

I got into a FB tiff with a friend because I told her that rent regulation didn’t work. Because it doesn’t.

Do you know why rent regulation was invented? It was invented to stop an emergency: To keep WWII veterans from coming back and getting price gouged.

That was the emergency.

Do you know of any other 75-year-old emergencies? Kinda really stretches the concept of an “emergency,” yeah?

Rent regulation goes against basic economic principles: If you take away 45% of the supply – NYC is roughly 45% rent-regulated – then the remaining 55% becomes astronomically high. It makes it so that the people lucky enough to get it, get cheap rent, while everyone else subsidizes them.

After all, non-market income doesn’t change the fact that everything else – utilities, taxes, mortgages – is a market expense.

Study after study shows that rent regulation doesn’t work.

Just like study after study shows the wall won’t work.

I mentioned this and she wrote back, “So, you just want to fuck the poor, Logan?”

Rich, when I told him the wall won’t work said, “So, you just want to steal jobs from Americans to give to criminals?”

I said once that I live by some basic rules: Is it true? seems like such a stupid one.

And yet, it’s the one that people mess up the most, I think.

My female friend wants to believe that rent regulation works and if I don’t believe that, I must want to “fuck the poor.”

Rich wants to believe that the wall works, and if I don’t believe that, I must want “to steal jobs from Americans to give to criminals.”

Funny thing is that they both defriended me.

That’s what happens if you don’t ask yourself that simple basic question: Is it true?

The less you ask that question, the more you find things that are actually true, repulsive.

The truth becomes grotesque.

When you live an unexamined life, you start becoming part of the world’s problems.

You build walls, to protect the comforting untrue things from the repulsive true things. And people just become another ugly thing you don’t want to see.

Eh, I don’t blame them.

I find myself grotesque and I’d defriend me too if I had the chance.

Podcast Version
Location: still in this fucking house
Mood: homesick
Music: I was just guessing at numbers and figures (Spotify)

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We *all* have problems, Logan

Good luck and good day

Me: You want some Sriracha?
Chad: (covers his entire meal with it).
Mouse: That’s a lot of Sriracha!
Me: I’ve made him into a man now, Mouse.
Chad: (nods, doesn’t stop eating)

People keep calling me to help out with these projects and I take what work I feel I’m a right fit for or if I want to help someone out.

You know that I don’t advertise? Been working for myself for over two decades and I’ve never advertised anything ever beyond this blog, I suppose. Maybe a few things, here and there.

Huy Fong, the makers of Sriracha also never advertised. They got by purely on their reputation. Must be an Asian thing.

Anywho, a lawyer buddy of mine asked me to help out with a client so, as a favour to him, I reached out to her and sent her what I could do and what I would charge.

Her: That seems excessive for a few pages of paper.
Me: I couldn’t agree more. You can probably find someone much cheaper with the New York Country Bar Association. You can ring up a lovely woman named Hannah there at 212-267-6646, ext. 217 to find someone else.
Her: Wait, but…
Me: 212-267-6646, ext. 217. Hannah. With two H’s and two N’s. Good luck and good day, madam.

I know what I’m worth and I don’t have the time or interest in convincing anyone of my value.

On that note, last week was one of my busier work weeks in a while.

On the flip side, I can also remember sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring. Of course, that was before everything in my life turned to shit.

Speaking of sitting at home, like I said earlier, Chad broke his foot but he’s a teacher by nature, so he’s definitely going stir crazy locked in his pad.

And Cho just got a new whip.

So, I offered for them to come by – along with Mouse – and roll in exchange for some food and entertainment.

And on a random weekday night, they were here.

We were all grateful for the lesson and I think Chad was grateful to just be on a mat again. He literally walked in – or hobbled in – and lay on the mat for a moment and sighed.

Just like the first time he came over.

After our lesson, he asked if we had any questions.

Me: About what you just taught or life?
Chad: We don’t have that much time, Logan.
Me: Well, I’ve got a lot going on.
Him: We all have problems, Logan!
Me: You don’t have to yell.

Pro tip: If you see a bottle of Lao Gan Ma Crispy Chili, buy it. You’ll be ahead of the curve. Trust me on this.

It’ll be the next big thing.

Podcast Version
Location: earlier today, trying to break an arm
Mood: tired
Music: I don’t want somebody like you (Spotify)
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Herding cats

Nothing is, I suppose

Been working on alla these projects of mine. Some for scratch, most not.

For example, I’ve been heading out to Queens early in the AM to meet up with a buncha guys to roll around every once in a while.

See, I’ve been trying to keep as busy as possible because I’ve been missing the boy something awful.

He just biked by himself the other day. When I was in another state.

It’s less than ideal.

And when I’m not thinking of him, I’m thinking of Alison. Or Mouse. Or my old life lives.

Suppose we’re are all just prisoners here of our own devices.

I’d just finished a project when Chad hit me and some friends up, outta the blue, via a messaging app.

Him: What’s up everyone? Cho and I are getting dinner later today and then look at the sunset together if he’s lucky. We’re doing Flushing.
Cho: I’m driving.
Pac: I can meet you guys in Flushing.
Mouse: (later) Reading this chat is like trying to herd cats.

I needed the distraction.

Me: I’m in.

And I hopped on my scooter to meet up with Cho around my old offices and we went off to pick up Chad downtown and Mouse in Brooklyn. It was a 90 odyssey.

Mouse: Since you all came to pick me up, I brought some homemade dumplings to tie everyone over.
Chad: Sweeeeeet!
Cho: Sorry, no eating in the car.
Chad: Dammit!

We ended up meeting Pac at the same restaurant that Mouse and I met him at over a year earlier. I wanted to go see my mom and sis since we were there but I figured it wasn’t fair to make everyone go out of their way.

I chatted up one of the greeters there for a buddy of mine.

Me: It’s too bad you’re not single, Sophie. He’s a catch.
Her: You remembered my name!
Me: Of course, darling. It’s what I do. But enough about me, tell me about this fella you’re seeing.

We ate. We drank. And then had some complex carbs.

It was a good night and a good distraction.

I went home and tried to get some sleep but instead pulled up pictures and videos of my family.

I’m grateful for my friends, really. But it’s not the same as family.

Nothing is, I suppose.

Podcast Version
Location: in front of my computer, non-stop
Mood: focused
Music: I had to find the passage back to the place I was before (Spotify)
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Goodnight, Luciano

I don’t understand why

Haven’t heard from the Devil in months. That worries me because he’s one of the few people in the world I think of as a friend.

How odd, to have a friend you call the Devil.

We’re friends because we see the world in the same way.

Me: Why me?
Him: (shrugging) Because you can separate signal from noise.
Me: So?
Him: As you get older, you’ll realize that most people can’t.

On July 14th, I felt compelled to reach out to this fella named Luciano Anthony.

What a name. Picture a super-built, really good-looking guy that was brilliant and you’d be picturing Luciano. He looked like a dude named Luciano Anthony.

(I also just found out that he went by Luciano Bianco as well – I only ever knew him as Luciano Anthony).

We were never close but he always said hi to me at the gym and was never anything but the nicest fella. He was covered in tats so I immediately made some judgments about him. All wrong.

He had a masters degree in Biotechnology from Johns Hopkins and worked as a science engineer. He did woodwork on the side.

Quiet and thoughtful, he was a beast on the mats. I remembered that I liked rolling with him because he always kept his gear clean.

Anywho, Luciano posted something random that night. It seemed out of sorts for what I knew of him.

I’m so fucking clever, you see.

So, I wrote him. I was probably drinking.

He was struggling with some demons. As a friend of the Devil, I know demons. In fact, I knew these particular demons he was struggling with. They’re old hated companions of mine as well.

Him:  (afterwards) Sorry if that’s too straightforward. Don’t have much family or friends so I tend to word vomit.
Me: No. That’s fine. When I say I understand, I really do. And more.

The last thing I said to him was, “I get it. If you’re in heed [sic] of someone to vent to, lemme know.”

That was it. Even though I knew something was wrong, I thought, I did my part. I reached out. I patted myself on the back. And I went back to my life. And I didn’t reach out to him again.

He killed himself exactly a week later. I didn’t know until today.

In ironies of ironies, I just wrote about depression and suicide in my last entry.

In the past four years, I’ve known six – now seven – people that died; I loved two of them completely. Luciano was the only one that took his own life.

I knew there was something wrong but I didn’t follow-up.

I get it. What could I have done? With him, with Alison? But what’s the point of hearing signal if nothing changes, if it doesn’t make a fucking difference anyway?

His mom posted that he died on Facebook. That’s how I found out. Fucking hell. No parent should have to do anything like that.

Like I said, a mother’s love for her child is like nothing else.

I think the same thing I always think whenever I hear about someone as good and as talented as Luciano dying – doubly so when it’s suicide – why?

For all my cleverness, I’ll never understand why. I suppose I don’t really want to. He was only 29. To me, that’s just a kid. What a fucking waste of a good soul.

Goodnight, Luciano. I’m so sorry you suffered and felt like you had to go.

I hope you found your peace.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Hours: Available 24 hours. Languages: English, Spanish.
1-800-273-8255

Podcast Link
Location: Pier 84, talking about Luciano with Chad
Mood: not good
Music: Didn’t get to sleep that night till the morning came (Spotify)
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The Call of the Void

Marley’s Chains

Co-Worker: I thought you were afraid of heights.
Me: I am. Kinda.
Her: Well, you seem fine.
Me: I hide it well.

I’m afraid of heights.

But not in the way you might imagine. There’s particular type of suicidal thought called the “Call of the Void” where, at a very high height, some people feel an incredible urge to jump, even though they don’t wanna.

It’s part of the original siren’s song.

When I was younger, I avoided open heights on the reg because the urge was so strong. It’s part of why I lived in basements and ground floors for essentially my entire life.

This fella named Rudolf Diesel invented the, well, diesel engine. But, he was so convinced that it would be failure that he killed himself. He jumped from a ship into the sea, unable to resist his siren’s song.

Not soon after he killed himself, his engine became the standard of Europe and of most of the trucks here in the US. If only he ignored the song for just a little bit longer.

I’m not – at all – suicidal right now. But I remember hearing my siren’s song a lot, throughout the years. It was partly Diesel’s story that kept me from jumping.

The idea that, maybe it’ll be somehow  ok if I hold out for just a little bit longer, keeps me going.

I bring this up because I saw a buddy recently and he was in a funk.

Him: It was like the start of a depression. But, not depression.
Me: I call that “bummed.” It’s a feeling of general boredom, sadness, and hopelessness all in one. I feel it too. You have to be careful it doesn’t snowball into a full depression.
Him: Yeah. I feel it.

Funny, I always feel it, like Jacob Marley’s chains.

Link by link, and yard by yard…

Podcast Link
Location: outside, feeling the sun on my face, if just for a bit
Mood: So. Damn. Hot.
Music: It’s like a part of me must love it (Spotify)
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Who am I?

SLBs

BrightBea’s 15 years younger than me. She’s at a cross-roads in her life.

Me: That makes sense. You reassess everything when you turn 30. You’ll do it again when you turn 40.
Her: So, it’s every 10 years?
Me: Well, you’re biologically a different person every 10 years. Have you ever heard about the Ship of Thesus?

I wrote once about it. Essentially, almost every single cell in your body is replaced every 10 years. Such that you’re literally and figuratively, not the same person you were 10 years ago.

Now, what if you changed your mindset too? Got rid of every negative habit and embraced only positive habits? Who would you be then?

For an added layer of complexity, it turns out that people are actually only 43% human. The other 57%? Not human.

All that, coupled with the potentiality of an influx of life-changing ideas and interactions means that we have the ability to reinvent ourselves better than ever, each and every day.

The reasons why people don’t improve?

I think the main things that hold us back are Self-Limiting Beliefs. Beliefs we think and believe to be true that shackle us, regardless of whether or not they are – actually – true.

I realized recently that the past five years have been a series of SLBs born of the awful experiences I had. I was letting them control me for far too long, and forgetting who I am and what I’m capable of.

Her: Whatever happened to your ex?
Me: Why do you care?
Her: (shrugging) Making conversation.
Me: (sighing) In a nutshell, we were always either taking our weapons out or our clothes off. We were always too busy looking for higher ground to find middle ground.
Her: (smiles) I like how you talk. And?
Me: There’s no “and.” You’re here for a reason. Besides, that’s her story, not yours.
Her: (laughing) What’s my story?
Me: I suppose we’ll find out soon enough.

Podcast Version
Location: my empty apartment, after Chad and She came by for dinner
Mood: hopeful, still
Music: love ain’t simple (Spotify)
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Batman, rabbits, deer…

…and bright red leather jackets

Chuck: Nice (bright red leather) jacket.
Me: Oh, thanks. I had it made years ago. Finally started wearing it again.
Him: Do they make it for men?
Me: Evidently not!

Batman was once asked why he wore a bright yellow bat on his chest.

The lawyer in me knows it was done for trademark reasons but the writers came up with a rather ingenious reason; because criminals would aim for his protected chest rather than his unprotected head.

That’s something straight outta nature.

If you look at some rabbits and deer, they have bright, white tails. So, when they’re chased by predators, they’re easily seen and chased.

That is, until they turn. Then the pursuer loses sight of the bright white tracker and, by extension, the prey.

Told a buddy of mine recently that a large part of life is separating signal from noise. What’s important and what’s merely misdirection?

I think I’ve been paying attention to distractions more than anything for the past while.

But, since I’ve recovered from COVID, it’s like someone turned up the volume and brightness on my life again because I see things so much more clearly than before.

On the flip side, as I see things more clearly, I miss the boy all that much more.

Oh, he graduated this week from Pre4K! It was far more emotional for me than I’d expected.

Which, I suppose, I should’ve expected.

Son: Will you come see me? I miss you.
Me: Then I’ll see you soon. I just can’t rent a car right now.
Him: You could take a train. Or get a ride with Auntie. I know! You could take a bus.
Me: (laughing) Don’t worry, I’ll get to you. Papa’ll find a way.

Oh, Chad and I have a new Scenic Fights Video up – this time, Chad’s breaking down the Jiu Jitsu in Donnie Yen’s Special ID.

Podcast Version
Location: home, looking up train schedules
Mood: homesick
Music: doesn’t matter how you get to me, just get to me (Spotify)
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Cleaning the darkness around us

Magic Soap

Her: Did…did you just wash the fruit with hand soap?
Me: Yeah. It’s fine.
Her: It’s not! You can’t do that!

People are often horrified when they see me wash fruits and vegetables – all fruits and vegetables – with my foaming hand soap. What they don’t know is that I use castile soap, which is made from vegetables and safe to use on pretty much everything.

If you’ve ever been out at a store, you’ve probably seen the most famous one, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap. I tend to buy the peppermint one.

Bronner had an interesting and tragic life.

He was a jew born in Germany and, when the Nazis took power, he implored his family to leave with him to America. But his parents felt they were German – Jewish Germans but still Germans. They refused to believe that they were in danger in their own home country so he left alone.

The last he heard from them was a single postcard from his father that simply read:

You were right. – Your loving father.

His parents were murdered by a country they loved that didn’t love them back.

What a terrible thing, to realize that a country – or anything – you love, not only doesn’t love you back, instead, wishes you and your family harm.

I’ve always been fascinated by bright things that emerge, directly or indirectly, from dark origins. The hope is always that some good can come from something awful and tragic.

It’s the hope, at least.

Random thought for a random day.

I hope you all stay safe. And I hope you’re all loved by someone or something that you love.

Me: Honestly, it’s fine. You gotta trust me on this.

Podcast Version
Location: my kitchen, popping painkillers
Mood: contemplative
Music: tell me if you love me or not (Spotify)
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Damaged people are dangerous

They know they can survive

Well, my neighbors are back. So much for the afternoon screaming.

Years ago, I was casually talking to someone at my gym and I mentioned that I grew up poor.

A fella there overheard and scoffed.

Him: Nonea y’all know what it’s like to be poor.
Me: What do you mean by that?
Him: (shaking head) You’re not poor unless you’re black and’ve gone hungry.
Me: Well, one of those two applies to me. I’ve had sleep for dinner plenty of times.

I grew up before the microwave. Or, at least, before the microwave was affordable.

Both my parents worked, so I’d come home, alone, and unlock the door to our tiny apartment and go to the sink.

I’d go to the sink for two reasons: (1) To wash my hands, and (2) because my mom would always put two unopened cans of Chef Boyardee in a pot with hot water trickling out of the faucet to warm them up.

Ideally beef ravioli but, really, whatever was on sale; cheese ravioli was always such a disappointment.

Then again, I grew up wearing homemade clothes. My grandma knit those hats my brother and I are wearing in the pic above.

Anywho, my mom always left a note that said something like:

Please try to save some for your sister – I love you!

It was then that I realized that “serving size” was a joke. That was dinner. She wanted me to put it in a bowl but that just meant something else for me to do so I’d just eat it outta the can and tell her I washed the dish.

In hindsight, the canned spaghetti and meatballs were the worst.

I mean, I still ate it, but, yeah…

Watching the news these days, I’m reminded of things like that. People waiting in lines for food at the food banks.

I remember all the goddamn lines we stood on, growing up.

One fall day, my mom bundled my sister and me (my brother was away) in our warmest clothes and we stood in line for hours for something. I complained the entire time. Finally, she grabbed me by the shoulders and said:

They’re giving away free vaccine shots and we can’t afford to get you two shots any other way. If you want to eat tonight, you’ll wait.

And then she turned away and tried to hide the fact that she was crying.

Man, I felt awful at that moment.

I was 12? I’m 47 now and, while I don’t remember how the shot felt, I remember how making my mom feel inadequate felt.

As a parent now, I feel it all the more. I do what I can. They did what they could.

Realize it’s a luxury that I don’t have to worry about my next meal any more. If I want a party pack of tacos, I buy myself a goddamn party pack of tacos.

I have sleep for dinner these days outta choice, not necessity.

This lady named Josephine Hart once said something like: Damaged people are dangerous. They know they can survive.

This pandemic is filling my head with such sad thoughts, I cannot even begin to tell you. But, perhaps that’s for the best.

Cause, I know I’m damaged.

If nuthin else, I survive shit, even when I don’t really wanna.

Podcast Version: Damaged People are Dangerous
Location: my empty apartment, now with lots of cheesecake
Mood: can’t look at another piece of cheesecake
Music: Man, I was dealt these cards and I played dem out (Spotify)
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