Once, I Was A Gambler

Once I was from California and I can tell you all about how lonely the I-5 feels at 3 o’clock in the morning. I can tell you how the cotton fields look in September, dusty and dancing to George Strait blared from a pickup driving too fast down a dirt road. I can tell you how the clam chowder smells in Morrow Bay on a cold afternoon as it wafts up into your hoody, lingering for a moment before being blown out to sea.
Once I worked construction and I can tell you all about what a compressor sounds like when it runs out of air. I can tell you what the sawdust feels like on the back of your neck when you stop for a cold beer, tired and accomplished at the end of a long day. I can even recite to you a few of the dirty jokes I’ve read scribbled on a port-a-potty wall.
Once I was a gambler and I can tell you about rubberband wrapped wads of $100 bills. I can tell you all about flopped nuts and suited connectors and getting outdrawn by a 90 year old Vietnamese dude at 3 in the morning. And I can still recognize a losing hand when I see one.
Some folks, they can tell you all about music and art and fine wine. Not me. Some know about junk bonds and municipal funds and variable growth rates. Nah, I don’t know anything about that. There’s lots who have a whole catalog of sexual conquests and satisfied fetishes and black leather riding crops, but it ain’t me, babe. No, it ain’t me.
Still, I’ll take the life that I’ve been given and when the Almighty calls my number I won’t shy away. I’ve sat at the edge of my bed singing off key and clumsily plucking out Simple Man on my guitar. I’ve pulled my last 5 bucks from my pocket and laid it out for 2 slices of greasy pizza, 2 PBR’s and an afternoon spent people watching with my best friend. I’ve woken up next to someone in the morning and not wanted to Houdini the fuck outta there. I’ve laid there, totally vulnerable, talking nonsense over bad breath and drool stains and had not the slightest idea what time it was. And I’ve been truly happy.
Those other folks, I pity them.
Once I spent my days in search of what they call purpose and can tell you what it’s like to walk barefoot in the desert, lost and looking for a drink.
Once I was a gravedigger and both my hands were calloused, shaking and dirty from the land.
And now my days are numbered, like the few coins in my pocket, but it’s enough for two beers and two slices and for me that’s always been enough.

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The Fisherman

For the same reason I am a poor fisherman I am a poor writer. Instead of touching fly to water, pen to paper, I spend too much time watching and waiting for the world to turn perfect. Stuck between inconsolable tragedies and improbable fantasies, while the world stays steady on its course; indifferent to my grand plans for it. Too much of life is spent dicking around playing some excruciating game of “Let’s Pretend”. As a writer and a fisherman I, by my very virtue, am the biggest fraud of all. Neither the writer nor the fisherman ever lets something as trivial as the truth get in the way of a good story.
Both cynical and romantic. Convincing others to seek shelter with the utmost conviction while I trudge farther into the waves clinging barely to life and damned miserable hope. Certain that everyone else should surrender, while just as suredly, I can defeat a thousand man army with only a blade made from a donkeys jawbone. One day I will die and my ashes will fade out over the sea, words will keep You etched imortally in time and neither cynical acceptance nor romantic delusion will halt this tragic birthright. The cynic in me curses the inevitability, but the romantic plots the possibilities.
The more I write and the more I fish the more I discover that I know hardly anything. For the fisherman there is always one more cast, the writer one more line and the end is always nearer than you think.

Getting It Wrong

It is always a great internal war, meeting a new person. A girl. The new boss. Some dude on the river with a cheap fly rod. An old friend from a lifetime ago. You fight your shallow, superficial, preconceived notions. Or at least you try to. Sometimes. So that you can meet them clean and without any undeserved expectations. Without any clouding bias’ or hope or deterring them with your own Goddamn arrogance. You try to come at them as unguarded as you dare and without holding against them everyone else you’ve ever met. You try.
Many times you’ve got them all wrong before they’ve even said hello. All wrong before you even know their name. You’re wrong while getting to know them. You tell your friend about them on your way home and you’re still wrong. And the same is probably true for them about you. It’s quite a clusterfuck, really.
Fact is, if you got everybody right all of the time the entire planet would be comprised of douche bags and sluts and liars and posers. If you’re reading this and thinking  “Well, it pretty much is!” Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Hell, I’m even inclined to agree with you, but getting it wrong sometimes is what makes life worth living. Sure, sometimes you overestimate someone or give them the benefit of the doubt and it can be painful and embarrassing. But if you never got it wrong you’d miss out on all of the best things. The lifelong friends and the mentors. Some really important lessons and fond memories. New food and great music. You’d miss out on some epic stories and great barbecues. The late night conversations and the butterflies and that incredible first kiss.
That’s what life is all about; getting it wrong. Getting it wrong again and and again and again and then when you’re really careful and proceed with extreme caution, still getting wrong anyway. That’s how you know you’re alive; you get shit wrong. Some of us are much more alive than others. If you’re wise enough and you can put your bullshit aside you can just go along for the ride, wherever it takes you. If you can do that I doff my hat to you.
It’s a damn hard thing to put aside all of those protective impulses.
There can be such great excitement and joy in being wrong about someone. In discovering that rather than an easy mark you’re now face to face with a worthy and willing challenger. Someone who contends your will and disproves your notions and humbles your pompous assedness. Someone who commands your respect, but accepts your faults. That’s what you find sometimes, when you’re wrong. A friend or an ally or a teacher. Somebody to love. Somebody who, in the face of your most ridiculous judgmental bullshit, is still unflinching. Willing to wait for you to come around. Not stubborn. Not necessarily even courageous. Just willing.
Sometimes being wrong can be the best thing that’s ever happened to you. You’re given a taste of something wonderful. And if that’s not enough for you, then perhaps nothing ever will be. Because that’s what life is; a taste. Plainly and purely. But if you do it right, a taste is all you need.
My candle burns at both ends and I think we all know that it will not last the night, but ah my friends and ah my foes, it sure gave off a beautiful light.
Merry Christmas, boys and girls. And remember, Uncle Hickory loves ya.

Life Is Like A Box of Wine

Life is a lot like drinking. The present only a hangover from the past and the future a head pounding nauseation of things we swear we’ll never do again. Miscalculations. Embarrassing moments. Bad haircuts. Love. As time passes, however, you get thirsty. The terribly sad or the wonderfully joyous situation occurs and you find yourself back at the bar saying to yourself, “Just one.” Then, “Just one more.” Then Thriller comes on and you’re out on the dance floor with one in each hand doing your best impression of a break-dancing werewolf. That’s how it happens. Life is a constant cat and mouse with the completely unexpected situation. You puke and you hurt and you hide. Then you throw on some shades and try to face the world. Hoping nobody else can smell you and wondering how much you’ll have to pretend to fight back if someone tries to throw you in front of a bus. Eventually, inevitably, though, we all get thirsty. We pull up our favorite stool and order a double of whatever it was we swore off for good the last time…. And in the morning the only one who’s surprised is you.

A Beer for Every Occasion, Part One

A Beer for Every Occasion

Let’s Start At the Beginning…
Breakfast- Coors Light. Goes great with morning breath or over a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats and doesn’t leave any lingering after taste once teeths are brushed. Perfect for those mornings after sleeping in a tent or chasing a Plan B.

Shower- Tecate. Excellent choice when you’re limited on time and need to multitask. Add to tomato juice for a power brunch or settle in for good soak and enjoy yourself. Nicely compliments a wide range of shower music and don’t worry about getting a little soap on the can, it just adds to the flavor.

Lunch- Black Butte Porter. Packs a bunch, which is ideal when you have to be back to work in 45 minutes and after a couple of these you’ll feel like you ate a 4 course meal.

Second Lunch- Sam Adams. Excellent choice when you need a 3 PM pick-me-up. If the boss is on your ass, what better than a little Boston in your blood to help you through a foul mouthed diatribe.

After Work- Stella. Won’t fill you up and never lets you down. Plus, drinking from a goblet always makes you feel like a classy bitch after a long day.

Dinner- with steak I like a Slaughterhouse Red. Crispy on the outside and bloody as hell all the way through.
With chicken it’s tough to beat a Blue Moon Belgian White. There’s no joke here, it’s just a great pairing.
With fish a Steel Reserve 211. It’s the only thing strong enough to rinse the foul foul taste of Talapia out of your mouth.
With a dinner salad I’d recommend a Michelob Ultra and box of tampons.

Dessert- go with a Chocolate Stout. The finest of the after dinner brews. Goes wonderfully with a tort, an oily cigar or a busty brunette hostess. Trust me.

Nightcap- Guinness. Because after all, who doesn’t like little head at the end of the night.

That’s Part 1. Tune in next time when we discuss the perfect beer for every social situation. And until that day comes, boys and girls, keep your ear to the grindstone.

Worser

When I was a kid in school, the teachers used to tell us not to say things like “worser” or “more perfect”; because if something is already perfect it is, by it’s very virtue, impossible for it to be any more so. However, I have seen enough ugliness in life and known someone so beautiful to make me wholeheartedly disagree on both counts. When I think back on myself in those days it is easy for me to understand what a great disappointment to my mother I must have become. By all accounts, that was the second best version of me. Innocent and curious. Unjilted and faithful and a thousand times less the cynic. I remember feeling myself change and not having the courage nor the wherewithal to do anything about it. Of course, by then it was already too late. When you are a young man your hope is that in dying you are able to do so with dignity and for a noble cause. As a grown man my hope is to live nobly, putting forth my most dignified efforts into all the moments that come before the final one. I’ve come to believe that you can live with dignity, but you certainly can’t die with it. True tragedy would be waiting until the curtains are drawing closed to make my amends and make certain those whom I have loved know it also. Love is not a bargaining chip. It is not always reciprocal, nor is it unconditional. It is not a matter of circumstance and it cannot be caged by matters of survival or social convention. It is….welll, what it is. Yes, true tragedy would be waiting until your last chance to take one. Living without something you would die for, but having tried, I can make my peace with that. Dying without something you have lived for because you gave up, that I cannot reconcile.
       Often after a great tragedy we sit back and try to pinpoint the first sign of trouble; where we went wrong or when exactly the sky began to crumble. It was with this in mind that I often sat quietly in the early morning when the world was still sleeping. But so often in these moments as I sat alone, when the day was still luminous and the sun hadn’t quite decided to rise, that my mind wandered from the thing I was looking for to something that I hadn’t even noticed was there. Such is life. Searching intently for one thing, only to discover something else that you didn’t even know was there and in memory having found something that wasn’t even there at all. Most people spend their entire lives searching for something that isn’t there. It was in this regard that I was most confounded by some of those I have known most deeply. How we can spend years with someone, learning every intimate detail, but never truly knowing what they are looking for. As the late, great Norman MacLean once said, “lt is those we live with and should know, that elude us. Seldom can we help them because we don’t know what to give and more often, the part we have to give is not wanted. But we can love them- we can love them completely without complete understanding.”

Selfies and Butt Drugs

Some thoughts on the day from your friendly neighborhood loudmouth:
You know how to tell if your dating app is probably just a booty site? The fact that it’s an app. It’s hard for me to take your relationship seriously when you tell me you met on Tinder. It’s also hard for me to take you seriously when you tell me that the earth is only 10,000 years old or that you have a Gluten allergy.

A few notes on self-taken portraits or “selfies” as the kids call them:
1) Are you purposely looking terrified?
2) Fellas, always under-sell. Give them a surprise half-inch to go home with.
C) There’s a thin line between sexy and amateur gynecology.
4) It’s duck season bitch, tuck those lips in.

I fully support same-sex marriage. Especially when both chicks are ugly or both dudes are handsome. Really, I don’t understand gay men or straight women, but I wish you all the best.

Want to kill an evening arguing with yourself? Have a doctor prescribe an opiate suppository.

Anybody who can explain to me who/what The String Cheese Incident is, please contact me privately.

Thank you. That is all.