Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Seth Green Killed It

I don't normally think of Robot Chicken as a knock out show.  It has it's moments, for example... I can't keep a straight face when I see this clip. 

Come on. It's funny. It's not trying to be hilarious, it just is.  And here's why I'm saying Seth Green Killed It, look at how he's promoting the action figure in time for the holidays...
*Start this video at 6:45*

Monday, December 13, 2010

Pranks are like Art Direction

Subtlety is the key.

I've tried many pranks and succeeded with a few.  Every success hinged on a subtle detail being changed to manipulate something over time.

For example, changing an answering machine greeting.  You don't pick up on it until someone says something.  Perfect set up.  So, when I was in Wheaton College, a Christian Liberal Arts college; I lived in an all-male dorm for my freshman year.  With so many sexually repressed students, shock value was easy to come by.  How does this play into an answering machine message?

Here's the set-up. After a day in college, I realized my cordless phone (this term already feels archaic, wow) worked as a portable speakerphone.  So, I could call gay sex lines and project their pre-recorded messages into the general public.  This was fun for about two minutes tops.  Then, I realized it was easy to change everyone's answering machine within the working radius of my cordless phone.  Put the pieces together ... and, voila: a new favorite freshman prank.

Did I run around and change everyone's answering machine into a gay sex line?  No.

I picked a victim.  His name was Brian.  He was tall and once gangly but filled out by the start of college.  His voice was a cross between Ernie from Sesamee Street and Gomer Pyle from the Andy Griffith Show.  He was a premature dad as in his humor was at the dad joke level, but his maturity wasn't.  Bad, awkward combo. 

I'd give examples but the only one which comes to mind is him joking that his favorite part about sleeping on the lower bunk of a bunk bed was having the underside of the top bunk serve as an ejaculatory target.  Was he joking? I don't know ... all of us were afraid to swipe a black light and find out the truth.. let alone if his range was as great as he graphically depicted.

The prank. How did it happen and why Brian?  I targeted him once I discovered what my portable phone could do.  I think we can all agree he was overdue for a prank by this point.  So, he got one. Two months into the school year, Brian left for two days which gave me ample time to do a recording session and figure out how to make the speaker sound as natural as possible.  After a series of attempts, I had a perfect recording. Seriously, with the natural distortion of a landline phone, it sounded like you were calling a flamboyantly gay college kid who was hustling his landline as a sex chat for extra cash.

Once Brian returned from his trip, life went on.  He, big surprise, didn't get many phone calls let alone voicemails.  But, he was competing for a highly sought after internship at a church affiliated summer camp.  Part of this application process was a phone interview.  This phone interview happened to fall within the same week that his grandmother made her annual call to check in and see how her favorite grandson was doing.  Two voicemails, the only voicemails he got all semester... both in the same week.

This was a dramatic detail, yes.  But, the beauty of it was it made Brian realize his phone line had been a sex chat line for the past month and lab partners or theology study buddies who called him were confused and appalled for reasons unbeknownst to him... until he got his two voicemails.  Yes, a pastor looking to hire him to be a head counselor of kids at a christian summer camp heard the message.  And yes, his grandmother called and presumably heard what she thought was her grandson hosting a sex chat.

The reaction was memorable.  On a Tuesday evening, anger in the awkward form of one-hundred and seventy eight pounds splotched about a six foot two-inch frame paraded into my dorm room holding a phone console high in the air.  "What the fuck Grim."

He had to explain his gay chat line that he allegedly had nothing to do with to both his employer for the summer who he checked in with everyday for the entire summer as a measure of accountability.  And, he had to convince his grandmother he wasn't hosting a gay sex chat.

Luckily, he cracked up about it because the recording was ridiculous enough.  To this day, it's the only time I've heard him drop an F bomb.

Subtle changes make for the best pranks. Remember that.

Monday, November 8, 2010

How to win a Halloween Costume Competition

1. Recruit your grandma or grandpa (helps if they've been smoking hard for the past four decades).

2. Bribe them with Golden Girl DVD Box Set, Three Stooges, or a pack of smokes.

3. Have them wear leather pants, English flags for shirts, and wigs.

4. You have Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and whatever the prize is for best costume.

5.  Don't exclude yourself, you can be their manager. Wear a suit.

Almost there

Monday, November 1, 2010

Facebook's changed me

I used to love, now I like.

I used to hug, now I poke.

I use to listen, now I ignore.

Zuckerberg. You ruined me.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Bill Murray's still got it

What do you do when you become a comedic superstar? Take advantage of it.

I found out about Bill Murray's antics one night after telling the story I heard about Emma Watson in college (see my earlier post).  Kyle, a friend of mine, told me the story of his friend that happened one early morning outside of Union Square.

Kyle's friend (let's call him Damien) bought hash browns from a nearby Dunkin Donuts and was waiting to cross a street.  As he waited for the light to change, a hand reached over his shoulder and grabbed a hash brown.

The hand moved in one smooth motion, like grabbing a toothpick from the complimentary bin at a hostess's stand.  Damien turned to confront his hash brown burglar and ended up staring Bill Murray in the face.

Bill Murray finished eating the hash brown and looked square into his vitcim's face. "No one will ever believe you."

And, he walked away.

Can anyone else really pull it off with being a major d bag?  I doubt it.  Bill knows it too, and has a monopoly on these candid moments of comedic gold.  Don't take my word for it, take the interenet's. . .

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fantasy, the Heroic Anti-hero of football.

Before I rant, I'll lay out my back story with football.  It's relatively new to me.  When I was a kid, I was shunned from pop culture.  Shunned to the extent of not knowing what the Superbowl was when I was 9.

Public high school and a liberal arts college did their part in giving me a crash course on everything trendy.  But I've always been an outsider to the sports world.  I can't speak the language of sport stats. I can't tell you what school whatever burly, short-lived sensation of a running back went to.  At least, I couldn't until Fantasy football brought me in. Hard.  Now, onto my rant.

Fantasy Football makes football relevant in a weird, perverted way.  Granted, I don't get it half the time.  But when I do, it's not rewarding. I don't feel happy when a player does well, I feel relieved.  Fantasy football's a constant stream of worrying about players living up to projections, warding off injuries, avoiding season ending tackles, recovering quickly from a concussion, or finishing off a suspension for being a dumb ass and getting busted for drunk driving in San Diego. Twice.

I don't have team loyalty, I only care about certain players. I obsess over stats like Emperor Dawes (a best friend of mine who's anal about having an immaculately kept wardrobe) obssesses over wrinkles in his starched oxfords.  I root against defenses and pray to all the gods for injuries to rival superstars.  I watch games, but cheer for both sides. I'm a bastardized fan.

Fantasy turns football into sales and turns up the heat for every fan invovled.  Like Alec Baldwin preached in his cinematic apex (30 Rock is tv, not cinema), you have to always be closing.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

This one's for Dena

There I was, a second semester freshman sitting in a class struggling to make sense of biological classifications. 

In this class, 25% of your semester grade depended on a presentation of a biological disease, depiction of its causal pathways, treatment options, and predicting what future research can lead to in terms of dealing with it.

As a group led us through Huntington’s Disease, I was enamored.  Not with the presentation, but with a presenter.  Her name was Dena.  She had Demi Moore’s hair, Claire Dane’s eyes, and Reese Witherspoon’s body.  

All I needed was a friend’s approval and I was sold on going after her.  So I leaned over to my friend Hannah.  “She’s pretty cute, right?”

“Yeah, you should ask her out.” Her words felt like gunfire at the start of a race. I was ready.  I was going for it.
The timing couldn’t have been better, and the timing couldn’t have been worse.  As Hannah unknowingly gave me a green light, Dena’s presentation reached the question and answer portion. 

This was my chance.  My hand shot up.

“Yes, you.”  Her eyes locked on me. She was ready to answer anything.

I stalled, tried to compose myself, and squeaked “How do we detect it at an early age?” It was a bullshit question and a lame cover for wussing out on asking her out.

A few more people asked equally boring questions and the presentation reached its end.  As Dena’s group made their way towards the side of the stage in front of our lecture hall of three hundred students, my hand shot back up.

“Wait, Matt’s got another question for the group.”

“Actually, this question’s for Dana.” Her name was Dena, not Dana. I’d already shot myself in the foot but kept sprinting for it.

“What are you doing tonight? I was hoping we could grab some coffee, talk about Huntington’s Disease, and go from there.”

Dena was ready for any question except that.  Her eyes locked onto mine in shock, her mouth dropped, and silence came out.  This was all the class needed for laughter to erupt.  It started with a cackle in the upper right where someone woke up and realized what was happening.  Then it spread like Chlamydia in the late sixties. 

Little did I know, Dena had a personality like a corpse and a long-distance boyfriend of five years.

My friends fell out of their seat as their bodies contorted with bursts of laughter.  Seriously, they were on the ground. When you combine a strict classroom striving to be as professional as college students could be, a twist is a shock and a shock is what a class of calculated thought never expected.

Dena’s face glowed with red like Darth Vader’s lightsaber before he took of Skywalker’s hand.  Without a word, she walked off the stage and made her way towards her seat in the crowd of people who couldn’t stop laughing at my expense.

I couldn’t think, I could only react.

“Did I mention I’ll treat?” Was all it took for her to turn about face as she walked by my row and snap back. As she turned, the class silenced themselves to see how much worse I could crash and burn.

“For the record, I have a boyfriend and he’s visiting this week.”

Again, I couldn’t think. So I reacted.

“Can I meet him? I’d like to see what I’m up against.”

Once again, she wasn’t ready for my question.  She turned her body away from me and her hair flung like a middle finger as it followed suit with the snappiness of her walk away.

Laughs died down slowly as people dabbed their eyes and sighed like they just had a Thanksgiving meal.

“Matt, remind me to never let you ask a question in my class.” Of course my professor couldn't resist kicking me when I was down.  Who could?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Three Points for Griffindor

This story came from the little sister of a friend of a best friend of mine and it's still great.

Emma Watson is a pre-med student at Brown University.  Apparently Hermione, Harry Potter's uber studious best friend, wasn't too foreign of a character to her.

Our story takes place at Emma's Organic Chemistry class at Brown.  Emma sits in the front row to avoid excess attention and help her focus on class content.  The teacher loves to quiz his students on the fly and today he targets Emma with a hard question about covalent bonds.

Emma pauses, thinks, and answers.  She gets it right.  Then, the inevitable happens from the back row.


The class erupts with laughter.  Everyone, including the teacher, wheez, cough, and roar with delight. Everyone except Emma who took in stride and took it in silence.

True story.

Twenty bucks says the guy who yelled it out only took the class for that opportunity.  I know I would have, which leads to my story of using a pre-med class to try to get a date.  I'll tell it next time so stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My relative. Cornelius O'Neil.

I'd like you to meet Cornelius O'Neil, he's from my Irish side.

This is a picture which a good friend of mine uncovered while image searching.  I don't know how he found the picture because it's hung on an oak mantle of a grandiose cabin deep in the northern forest of Wisconsin.

As you can tell, he was beautiful.  Women sang songs of warning about him and men sang songs in general.  He lived with a touring whistler band that swooned the hearts of hummingbirds (colonial talk for crowds of slaves who came up with soul songs by humming them while they worked the fields) using only puckered lips and tonal duality.

Sometimes I wonder who I would've been had I been around for that photo.  As you can tell, he dressed well in colonial layers with a fashion forward victorian esque edge.  

Sadly, Cornelius's reign was cut short by pneumonia. He survived, but it killed his lung capacity which short handed his career. 

Bet you didn't know I was that cool, or at least my blood is.

Final note on Cornelius, you may have heard his most famous song, it's the jingle at the end of the Old Spice spots.

Bon Iver in Paris

Bon Iver is a favorite of mine. If you know them, you will love this.  If you don't, be ready for an intimate folk sound that was born in the deep Northern woods of Wisconsin where Justin Vernon escaped to after a hard break up.

He did something beautiful with his pain and created music that anyone who's ever been through a rough patch can find solace in.

Especially this set. It was done in Paris while they were on a break from their European tour.  Thank you for posting this for me to steal.

Take Away Show #93 _ Bon Iver (full version) from vincent moon / temporary areas on Vimeo.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Their words taste like a plumber's hankerchief

It's hard to be a writer in advertising.  Duh.

I try to keep my subconscious loaded with quality content of Hemingway, Dostoyevsky, and Jersey Shore (kidding).  But when I see tags like "Treat your eyes to a feat of surprise" plastered across a bus for Cirque De Solei, I feel the creative feces return to rot the brain like Bon Jovi doing a reunion tour in Jersey.

Bitching about it won't do any good.  I'm done ranting and complaining, it's time to find inspiration which means I need to get after the creative scene out here in Chicago. 

I don't have a major cash flow to hit up every rock show across town, but I've heard whisperings of a decent creative scene in this city.  It's yet to be seen by yours truly.  I won't lose heart, and I'll start asking around a little more.  And when / if I find a few decent spots, I'll write them up here for the one person who still reads this after my fourth month hiatus.  I love you mom.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bay To Breakers

San Francisco has a great tradition where 3,000 people run an 11K race and 67,000 people make a parade out of it.  For the majority, the goal is to make the race last as long as possible and have a blast while doing it.

I took the camera out for good times and great black mail.  Of the 400 pictures, 50 were keepers.  I'll upload the rest in future posts, but for now enjoy these characters. 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Welcome to my new peeps. Or, new person if you wanna be a dick about it.

Hi there. Let me finish battling this robot and introduce myself.

Almost there. And, done.  Now, before I introduce myself, I want to thank everyone who helped me get up and running where you can see my work.

Okay, let me introduce myself.

I am Matt Grim. I have five sisters and no off switch. I'm an avid people watcher, cinephile, superficial philosopher, occasional reader, amplified conversationalist, and writer.  The nickname "The Brotherless Grim" comes from having five sisters. Five sisters who won't date you, Nick Jones, so stop already. God I hate you. And love you.
Colleague = Comrade.
I think the measure of a man or a woman lies within how enjoyable they are to share a beer with.  For me, the best people are the ones who will stay up all night to perfect something, but can kick back every now and then and have a beer. And by "now and then," I mean weekly.  Basically, I love hanging out with ad people when we don't spend the whole time talking about the biz.  Or, I love hanging out with screenwriters when we don't spend the whole time gossiping about the biz.

My Colorful Past: My past is pretty wacky.  It ranges from being in a cult for two years as a kid to working as a beekeeper for a summer.  Yeah, there's a lot of great stories which lead to how I got here. But the fact is, I am here and I'm ready to go.

We can talk about everything else over lunch, or a jog, a climb, a snowboarding session, a live show, or whatever you feel up to doing.  See you there.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

When I asked the Czechloslovokian whore for directions,

She must've assumed I wanted sex because she responded quickly and positively.  Once she figured out Brian, my cohort in traveling Europe, and I were lost and weren't looking for sex, she told us to Fich off.

Nice, she told us to fich off, not fuck off.  She must have thought we were German, not American. 

So there we were, lost in Prague without a clue as to how to get back in the direction opposite our forty minute bus ride.  We walked around and saw the coked out whores of Prague, the slums of the outlying projects, and basically everything else we didn't come here to see.

On the plus side, there weren't any tourists within eyesight. On the not so plus side, we were about to get stabbed and bleed out in the slums of Czechoslovakia. After an hour of wandering about and asking whore after whore for directions but getting only a cocked eyebrow from one as she asked "Do you both?" as she slowly unzipped her fanny pack to expose a multitude of condoms. Cheap, expired looking condoms.

"No thanks, we want to go to Prague." -Brian
"Fich off." -Czechoslovakian Prostitute.

I didn't take pictures because I didn't want to die. Sorry, use your imagination and pretend you're in a cobble stone ghetto. In your sandals, shorts, and rain jacket at 2 in the morning local time.

As it turns out, we went the wrong way. Big surprise.  We found a sweet woman who took pity on us and steered us in the right direction.  Fast forward an hour and we're in a tavern being served on by the rudest waitress in all of Prague.  Her blue eyes were venomous and I'm pretty sure her tongue was forked. But, the beer was fifty cents a litre so we put up with it and gave her a five cent tip, which she loved us for. 

I guess waiters and waitresses never get tips out there, big surprise.

So there you have it, the story of how Brian and I spent most of our first night in the slums Prague talking to whores and trying to get directions.  Next up is the story of how my foot got aids in Prague when my sandal broke and we still had a three mile walk ahead of us.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Banksy Movie

It sounds awesome. I saw a preview before for it when I went to see "The Ghost Writer." It's all about the street art movement with artists like Banksy who create beautiful pieces illegally.

I'm gonna see it because it's all about a guy who tries to document the street art movement. He tries and fails miserably because he's never done a documentary. I love a guy with balls like that. My kinda guy.

Anyways, he becomes an internet celebrity and something completely different comes out of this project. Maybe the movie will suck, maybe it won't. At the very least, it's a way to give props to Banksy and everything he's done. So, I'm gonna pay my $10 to see it.

You should too.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Let's celebrate.

I hate you Brad Marshal.




the xx

Ahh man, first off: don't use Blogger. It's the slow one of the blogging bunch, the final pick.  I was deep into a story about the xx, a band I love dearly because they make sweet love to my ears on a regular basis, and Blogger shut it down on me. I lost everything. 

So, I'm rewriting the bastard. Here we go.

Kevin, a good friend I road tripped the coast of California with, got me into the XX when we worked together in Chicago.  After putting them on heavy rotation for a few writing sessions, I fell in love.

I fell in love because the xx is an intimate trip.  It's gentle, subdued, but loaded with style.  This works perfectly for me because when I write, the background music has to be raw and sedated. Think ambient electronics or chilled out live recordings.  (

Sigur Ros live at the Icelandic Opera House is my default, they have such a peaceful sound ( followed closely by Radiohead's live recordings.

Here, listen to the live piano version of "Like Spinning Plates by" Radiohead. Listen close and you can hear Tom Bjork hypnotize thousands using only his vocals, 88 keys, and a few englishmen.

Back to the xx.  I'm hot for this band for two reasons: percussion and vocals.
The percussion feels as smooth as water babbling over skeletal remains of fallen climbers in a mountain stream in the Austrian Alps.

The vocals feel naked. intimate. exposed.

Vocalists Tomy Madley Croft and Oliver sim make a lifetime of intimacy be felt with every shared note they sing, hum, and speak.  The tension between the magnetism of their voices and the meticulous percussion is gratifying. On every note.

It's a beautiful relationship they let us be part of. Intimate like when Bon Iver went deep into the Northern woods of Wisconsin to find his soul, then came back with this:  (

At the end of the day, I say the xx is a talented group of emo hipsters who are talented enough to be emo hipsters for a living. Gifted bastards.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

This Justin: The Brocast

For the past two days, I've spent more time than I should on this podcast idea.  I think it's gonna be a smashing failure and I'm pumped to orchestrate it.

The running joke behind this is we're not meeting in a room. We're meeting through a ghetto conference call. I'm using skype, g chat, and my iPhone to make this a disjointed attempt at a conversation.  Basically, I'm forcing my best friends from Germany to have an awkward conversation with each other.  And Brian gets it the worst because he's always on the iPhone talking and listening through the speakerphone.  Ouch.

The Deustch Bags are back in action!

This Justin: The Brocast

Friday, March 19, 2010

My new home. Sweet home.

So pumped for this place.  It's on telegraph hill here by the coit tower in North Beach.  Close to China town and it's cheap food and close enough to school to make it hard to be late.


Monday, March 15, 2010

What about the pictures?

"Ohh Matt where are all the pictures on your blog?"

I'd be snapping the pixels, but when I flew out here my charger cord was stolen from my camera pack.  My camera pack was in my checked bag.  The checked bag which was cracked open and rummaged through. Mind you, my camera was in my carry on where it couldn't be handled and ransacked.

What a bunch of bastards. When they saw a camera bag, their docile eyes must have come to life.  I bet they were pissed when they found no camera and my handwritten note saying "No camera for you, you dirty, dirty baggage handler."

How do I know they found the note? Because it was gone, along with my camera charger cable.  My guess is when they realized I anticipated their sticky hands, they stole the charger cable out of spite. So dirty.

If you learn anything from my word-heavy blog, I'm happy with this being it: take your entire camera situation on the plane with you.  Anything you check, you leave behind.

Yes, I've been meaning to replace the charger cord, but never got around to it.  I'll get it done before I head down to LA. I hope.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

What isn't cliche out here?

Meeting celebrities in California. Could I be anymore cliche?  Then again, what isn't cliche in San Francisco?

In a city born out of individualism and a great port for seaside imports and exports, how aren't you a cliche in anything you do out here?  Ohh here I am, a writer looking for his first gig. Heard it before.

Ohh there goes a unique rebel strutting about in her neon blue leggings, black combat boots, and Where's Waldo hoodie. She has a guitar slung across her back and walks around sporting a scowl that says "This world is as bitter as the lemon I sucked five minutes ago. Now I'm taking it out on you with my sour-faced stare." Seen it before.

So, when I saw someone I recognize from a tv sitcom , how do I react? Go for the signature? Shake hands? Tell him you love his work and he's amazing?  All of the above are cliche. It's all been done before out here.  How can anyone be original when it's all been done before?  

You can't. So it comes to the age-old truth: good creatives borrow, great creatives steal.  Yes, I'll steal. I'll use a line his character says in his sitcom. A reference so abstract he'll realize I'm a nerdy fanboy and hopefully this opens up a conversation instead of the brush-off everyone else gets when they say "Oh my GOD it's you! You're so great can I get a picture with you? Wait, will you sign this shirt I just took off?" 

Yeah, this feels like it might work. Oh but wait, he's gone. He left the dive bar and took my chance of living out a California cliche.  Back to playing pool with random hipsters in a dive bar. Back to another cliche. 

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A beautiful thought

While reading Drops Like Stars by Rob Bell, a passage hit home today. Before I lay this quote down, I want to detail the situation. It comes from the writer Frederick Beuchner recounting when he was a twenty-seven-year-old bachelor trying to write a novel which refused to happen for him.

I was trying too hard
and hadn't learned yet the importance
of letting the empty place inside of me open up.

And so we're polite and we play by the
rules and when asked how we are, we
answer "I'm fine, thank you," just like
we're supposed to.

And then we suffer.
There's a disruption
and our boxes get smashed
and the insulators are removed
and the pretense is shattered
and the "empty place" inside of us
opens up.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Why I love myself

Payback is a beautiful thing. Plant your seeds of revenge and they'll blossom when you least expect it.

I got an e-mail from Urgo this morning saying "Penises."

Here's how it went.

This is a left over from my retaliation against Urgo's eyes.  I found and printed out hundreds of copies of a penis tattood with cartoons all over it. Then, they were distributed and concealed around her work space.  A few of my favorites were hiding it under her wireless mouse. The mouse didn't work with the penis taped over the sensor, she unplugged the mouse and couldn't figure it out until she looked underneath.

There were so many more great hiding spots including CD covers, plasticized telephone directories, inside a jammed up stapler, oh so many. 

And this one went with her to Hamburg to be discovered two days after I found her eyes in my book. Crazy.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Why I love Urgasm

One of my proudest moments with Ms. Jessica Urgo was penning "Urgasm" as a nickname. Now, onto the story of why I love Urgasm.

Jessica Urgo, a best friend of mine who's currently spending time with the deutsch bags in Hamburg, Germany, has haunted me with her eyes since October.

Here's the short story.  Urgo and I interned at Draft FCB Chicago for three months.  While at Draft FCB, Urgo decked out my cubicle with about two hundred pictures of her eyes. Only her eyes. Imagine a menacing stare from vivid green eyes. Always watching you. It was horrid.  I love Urgo but I don't love being watched by her.

I spent the rest of my time at Draft FCB finding pictures of the eyes. The same close up shot of her eyes staring intently into the observer.  Every time it was terrifying. Great prank.

Today, it got better.

I went to Bugaloo's for a late breakfast. I brought E.B. White's "The Elements of Style" because it's a great book on how to make every word tell.  No rambling.

As I'm working through the book and taking notes, they find me.

The eyes of Urgasm.

My favorite part is she created an even more terrifying version of the picture. The psychedelic stare. Well played, Urgo. Well played.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Not even a nibble

I'm 50-50 on writing at bars. Sometimes it helps you because you can people watch until you get a decent insight to push and find a great human truth to write off of. Yet, usually it's too distracting to get anything great.

But when all the coffee shops close, there isn't anywhere else to go. This was my story of last night. I wandered around the Mission (my neighborhood in San Francisco) and couldn't find a single cafe to work at.  After a half hour of walking around, I settled with the Lexington Bar at Valencia & 19th.

It was a decent dive bar. Maybe forty feet long and thirty feet wide.  A dank pool table lit by an upside down green cone swinging back and forth set the mood for the aged wooden bar.  I saddled up to the bar to get to work.

After an hour of writing I realized this place was loaded with women. The dude count came to me plus one bald headed biker. Weird.  Maybe I'll get a nibble of interest from one of these California girls? Who knows.

Three hours later, the bar closes up and I haven't gotten a word, a nudge, or even a tap.  I headed home with a stack of new material, and a slightly bruised ego.  When I told Emmett (my Swedish roommate) about the experience, her boyfriend cracked up.

"Dude, that's a lesbian bar."

Monday, February 15, 2010

Remember the nightmare of being the only one in your underwear?

I lived it last night.

This story starts at the end of the pillow fight.  I had finished fighting thousands of strangers with a pillow and was pumped to find out what else the night could bring.  Cristina, Justin my german roommate, and I took the BART back to the Mission. Cristina had a cold and whined about how she's gonna miss out on all the fun tonight.  I had to ask what fun she was talking about. "The underwear party, it's going on at a couple hot bars like Make Out Room and Knockout."

Underwear Party, here I come. To make sure it was going on, I checked it out and found this:

Okay, we're in business. I donned a button up shirt, tie, and sweater on top, and baby blue boxers with a checkerboard pattern of white skulls on bottom. And out I went.  Oh wait, before I headed out, we met our new neighbor Kevin from France. Once again, a guy with an enchanting accent he uses to make any girl out here melt for him.  It's not fair. 

We talked for a bit about advertising since he's doing an internship. Funny what a small world advertising is.  We talked, had a drink, and just like my pants, I was off. 

Walking around San Francisco without pants on was more of an experience than I expected. It's San Francisco, people are crazy out here right?  Who's gonna notice a pair of blindingly white legs? Damn near everyone.

"Wow, only in San Francisco" was what a homeless guy said to me after seeing my get up. A homeless guy called me crazy. 

Five minutes later, I arrive at the Make Out Room. It's not quite as lively and loud as I had hoped, but I'm still going for it, if I can get past the bouncer.

"Where's your ID son?" -Bouncer.

"In my pants." -Me

"Well how the hell do I know you're not a cop or one of those guys who busts bars for not carding?" -Bouncer.

"Dude, I'm a writer in advertising. I'm pretty much the opposite of a cop." -Me

"Prove it, tell me one of your lines." -Bouncer.

"Okay, I wrote this for smart car:" -Me.

"Does your daughter really need a back seat?  Smart Car. All sorts of safe." -Me

"Hahahaha that's terrible. Go ahead."-Bouncer

In I went. Empty it was. 

It was a private party full of middle aged people who all HAD THEIR PANTS ON.  Remember the nightmare of being the only one in your underwear? I was living it.

Come on, there has to be an underwear party around here somewhere ... was what I thought as I scoured the bar. Nothing.  Great. 

What do you do when you're the only person without pants on at the bar? You get a drink. Fast. 

"Make me something that will help me forget I'm the only one here without pants." -Me
"One Manhattan coming up." -Bartender

It was awful. I couldn't play it off, as hard as I tried with every conversation I had for the next hour.  Everytime, people didn't laugh, they asked who I knew.  I would say I knew Levi but we had a falling out. Nothing. Not even a smirk. 

Finally, towards the end of my drink, an attractive woman around my age started a conversation. 

"Pssst, your tattoo's showing." -Hot girl I don't know.

"I'm protesting denim." -Me.

"Your legs are white enough to light a city block." -Hot girl I don't know.

It was time to call it a night and she gave me a chance for an exit.

"I USED TO BE A LEG MODEL" -Me as I stomped out of the bar and walked home.

The end.

Misery loves company.

I have to admit, I hate Valentine's Day. It's a God awful excuse for people to throw money down to be romantic because it's the thing to do.  WHy can't we be romantic whenever we want and why do we make a day of celebrating love when so many of us are single and miserable? Okay, not miserable, but single.  You try being single on Valentine's Day and not feeling a slight sting of misery. 

Turns out, misery loves company.  2,000 San Franciscans proved this by showing up at Market & Embarcadero to stage the biggest pillow fight the West Coast has ever seen. 

It was a blast. I showed up without a pillow at 6:10pm. The fight had started ten minutes ago and had become a chaotic blur of white pillows with a flurry of white feathers floating gently over the thousands bitter pillow fighters.  I jumped into the crowd without a pillow and ready for a few good blows.  After a few minutes and a couple dozen smacks, someone gave me their extra pillow and it was on. 

You could feel it in the crowd with every smack, we were taking out our frustrations of love, life, work, or wherever they were rooted. A half hour later we're all exhausted but still swinging.  Ten mintues after this, I'm good.  

As we headed onto the second part of the night, more and more pillow fighters were arriving for their fashionably late entrance.  Tons more.  I'm guessing the fight went on for a few hours with all the white pillows we saw heading towards the frenzy as we walked away.

This was the best part of my day, my next post is going to talk about the worst part. Spoiler alert: it involves showing up for an underwear party that didn't exist. 

You're sitting where a man had his last drink.

Was what a man with long black hair told me after I walked into a bar called Dirty Thieves, sat down, and ordered a drink.

The man's name was, crap I forgot, and he was a professional Tango dancer who loved to share a good story. Here's the story he told me.

Back when Hell's Angels ruled San Francisco, this was their hang out.  Harley's were parked down the entire street for a block.  Everyone knew better than to fuck with 'em ya know? This was their place and no-one could take it from 'em.  Well, when you say you're the king, you get a war.

The Mongols were a rival biker gang.  One day, the leader of The Mongols walked in here, sat his ass down right where you're sitting now, and ordered a beer.  He got one sip in before a fist found his face.  His ass got the piss pounded out of it by Hell's Angels. But they weren't done.

They dragged him outside, bloody mess he was, and took him a block away where everyone in the bar heard two gunshots.  Three men left, two came back and kept drinking on the missing man's tab.

This is the bar. This is Dirty Thieves.

It started with a backstage pass

My curly-haired friend Kevin (Think Vince from Entourage) gave me a heads up on a show. The Antlers were playing with another band, The Editors.  I'm embarrassed to admit, but two weeks ago I had no idea who The Editors were.

Next thing I know, I'm immersed into an emotionally charged crowd of people swaying back and forth in a silent trance.  As we got closer to the stage, it felt more like a seance than a live show.

The Antlers were playing "Kettering" when we arrived. It's my favorite song and pulled us in like a tractor beam.  We weren't up next to the stage, but in the outskirts of the hot sweaty mass of 400 people.

Tiny venue, but I loved the setting: a converted opera house with ceilings decorated in an art nouveau fashion.  Gold plated awnings shined in the multicolored stage lights.

The Antlers owned the stage.  Lead singer Peter Silberman opened up his veins and bled through the microphone. We soaked up every heart-wrenched drop like ravished vampires. It was less of a show,  more of a feeding.

Their set went on for another half-hour. Everyone wanted them to keep playing, but they bid San Francisco goodnight and exited.

Lights went on and roadies came out. The Antler's rig was dismantled and carried out through double doors opening into the city.  We met up with the rest of Kevin's crew and discussed life in Oakland compared to The Mission in the heart of San Francisco. Conclusion, I love living in San Francisco.

The room grew dark and was filed with ambient sounds of electronic sound effects. The Editors were ready to paint the room with their English charm.  They stole the stage and never gave it back.  It sounds cheesy, sure, but it felt this dramatic.  Plus, the haze of pine scented smoke made everything feel a bit more magical than it was.  I was there, but I did not inhale.

An End Has A Start was their closing song, everyone knew it when they came back on the stage after the crowd cheered for an encore for fifteen minutes. Straight. "You came on your own, that's how you'll leave" was repeated by lead singer Tom Smith until it became a chant. It grew louder and more impactful with every repetition until drummer Ed Lay ended the set with the crash of his high hat. They walked off the stage of a darkened room full of cheers and screams of "I love you" from men and women.  Only in San Francisco.

As everyone exited, our crowd headed for the front, to the left,  and down a spiraling metal stair case. We were in the backstage room for the after party!  Everyone was chilled out and relaxed.  It was a room full of strangers awaiting the company of rock stars. Pretty awkward feeling actually. If I ever became a lemming I'd imagine this is the general feeling of their life.  Our leaders emerged with coolers of beer and bottles of wine.  The party was on.

Since I didn't know The Editors music very well, I wasn't as awestruck as the rest of the group.  It was a bit sickening to see starry-eyed devotees hang on Tom's every word and over-laugh at his every word.

This is why I didn't take pictures, it looked as cliche as it felt when The Editors said "piss off" through their smiles for the cameras of every outstretched enthusiast's arm begging to get a picture.  Instead, I sipped my PBR like the hipster I was and watched the show unfold itself.

Fast forward an hour and we're hitting the streets of Chicago. Me, Kevin, his friend Becca, and The Editors' drummer Ed Lay, singer Tom Smith, and guitarist Chris Urbanowicz.  The first bar was a bust. It was twice as long as it was wide, and abandoned except for a few disgruntled Santa looking fellows who wandered outside the North Pole and got lost.  Onto bar number two, minus Chris who found himself wrapped up in a conversation about whether or not a hawk could overtake an armadillo. Okay, I don't know what they were talking about, but let's pretend it was that.

Bar number two was a success. So much in fact that it ended with lead Singer Tom Smith serenading us as he sang along to slow jams through a microphone the bar tender was happy to provide. Great time. I spent most of it talking with Chris when he showed up an hour after the rest of us.  We talked about the Antlers and where you find inspiration.  Plus, the beauty of a foreign accent. For him, America was his promise land. For me, it's Austria.  Sidebar: Chris was jealous of my story about stumbling into a riot in Germany. One point for Matt.

The night wrapped up around 4a.m. with the bar staying open late because, come on, everyone loves a rock star. What a great night.  Thank you Kevin for letting me be a part of a great time.

Lesson of the day: when someone asks if you want to go see The Editors, say yes.