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.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

War. On Drugs.

Read all about it.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

l'd like a metal pole please

What can't you find in San Francisco? Nothing.

For a campaign, I needed a seven foot tall pole. Alright, I'm not going to run to the nearest home depot. I'm sticking to my hood because I know I can find whatever I need here in the Mission.

Sure enough, a "Julio's Hardware" appeared after a few blocks of wandering with open eyes.  The place was started before San Francisco existed. It was cluttered like an agoraphobe's basement moments before they pass on.  The entrance was a tunnel carved out between aged boxes and tools piled atop each other.  Anything made of metal involving a functional purpose in the nature of handymannesss was buried within this 200 x 12 foot cove.

The owner was fast approaching a century of existence but had a grip like a vice clamp. "Whatcha need son?"

Ten minutes later and I leave with a seven foot tall galvanized aluminum pole. Awesome.