the start of somethin’ somethin’

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Smith Street jam session. Around the corner from our apartment. Brooklyn, NY. June 2015

Today is July 1st. The 2nd half of 2015 has officially begun and we intend to use the rest of the year to kick some ass. Creative ass, that is. One way we intend to do this is by writing/posting/sharing on a consistent basis. To say we’re going to do it every day is to set ourselves up for failure. We’d like to do it every single day.

But the focus must be on what we can do today.

The individual days—and the moments, the now—that’s what we need to focus on. Staying productive, effective, accountable and creative. If we stay on point with these things, good things will surely come our way.

But as my wife has pointed out more than once—and I don’t disagree—nobody wants to read about me writing about how much or how little I’m writing. So that’s the last you’ll hear me speak of this for a good long time.

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I’d rather be writing about what’s on my mind. Today we’ll focus on how much we’ve been loving life in Brooklyn. We’re on our 228th day as New Yorkers—bonafide Brooklynites, to be exact—and there are many reasons to love this place. Here are some of mine:

Restaurants galore. Living in Cobble Hill has turned us into serious foodies. From our favorite sushi bar, Kiyoto, which is literally about 30 yards from the entrance to our apartment building, to our new favorite Italian spot, Layla Jones, to our previous favorite Italian spot, Sottocasa. Then there’s this place that calls itself “BoB”—which is only one of the reasons to love it. It seems like once-a-week we’re stumbling onto another cool place to eat. We’ve barely felt the need to tap into the deliciousness awaiting us in Manhattan.

Subway love. Speaking of Manhattan, one of the best parts about where we live is the fact that we’re 2 blocks from the subway. From the G line we’ve got a 10- or 15-minute subway ride to Williamsburg or Prospect Park. The F train is about 15 minutes to Soho. If you’ve got to squeeze into a rush hour train, you’re probably not loving it as much as a guy like me. Most of my subway rides have been off peak hours. So my subway romance is alive and well.

People watching. The subway alone would be enough for this. (I like to create backstories for the people I’m sitting across from. On my bucket list is to spot someone reading one of my books on the subway.) But there’s nothing like walking the streets of New York City. And I’ve done plenty of walking around Brooklyn—though I’m itching to explore so much more. From our Cobble Hill neighborhood I’ve explored the places and faces of Brooklyn Heights, Park Slope, Gowanas, Williamsburg and Prospect Park. I’m looking for suggestions on new places to go. But I’m also savoring our neighborhood, where we’ve got—besides great restaurants—a much-loved butcher shop, interesting boutiques, yoga studios, quaint parks, movie theaters and the coolest Trader Joe’s I’ve ever seen a mere 2 short blocks from our apartment. Plus, you never know when a street fair is gonna pop up around the corner from your apartment. Life is good in Cobble Hill.

Brooklyn Bridge. We live about 10 blocks from the iconic testament to American ingenuity. I love being near the bridge, biking over the bridge, looking at the bridge. Molly and I jogged to the center and back a couple weekends ago. Thanks to the magic of the iPhone 5, we now know we’re exactly exactly 2 miles from the middle. I hadn’t jogged in years. That’s how inspiring it’s been to be near the Brooklyn Bridge. Maybe it’ll turn me into a runner yet.

Creativity centralOne of the reasons I eventually wanted to live in New York City is because it always struck me as the center of the universe. Sure, LA had the movies and TV. But New York had everything else in spades: theater, publishing, art—culture. Plus all the history, the clout, the energy. Not to mention a film and TV landscape that’s been churning out memorable product for decades. That’s not going anywhere. If anything, it seems to be on the upswing. All of which is to say, it’s nice to be in the center of it all. I may not have gotten out as much as I’d like as of yet, but it’s coming. Still, I’ve managed to drum up close to a dozen freelance assignments, even though it took me a while to get going. (Moving here during the holidays in the dead of winter certainly didn’t help.) I’ve written profiles on TV writers (The Colbert ReportDaredevil), features on gripping new TV shows (any Bloodline fans out there?) and I’m now working on a big baseball piece for this website, an idea that’s been brewing in my psyche for 20 years. Sunday I’m going to “Seinfeld Day” at the Brooklyn Cyclones minor league baseball game in Coney Island for an assignment I got from Hemispheres magazine. And maybe best of all, I’ve recorded, edited and posted my first few podcasts—including this chat I had with The Who’s musical director for my new 2 Degrees of BOB podcast. Let me know what you think.

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These are only some of the things I’m loving about living in Brooklyn. We’ll keep you posted on anything else we fall in love with out here in the bliss of Brooklyn. Thanks for joining us.

So where are you finding your bliss?

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keep up the good luck

HotPinkGlove

We’ve been New Yorkers for 133 days now.

On November 16th, Molly and I showed up in Brooklyn as newlyweds, 6 weeks into our marriage and soon to discover the relationship challenges that come with downsizing from a 5/3 in Austin to a 1/1 in Cobble Hill. Many a discussion has been had about exactly what items are worthy of a reprieve from the governor—my wife—before getting tossed into our nearby 6th floor trash chute or taken on a trip to the Salvation Army truck 5 blocks up the road on Atlantic Ave.

There have been a zillion tiny decisions to be made. And they’ve all been made in the midst of the coldest recorded winter in the history of New York City.

Not that it’s brought me down. You’d think as a native Southern Californian I’d be sulking, in serious need of some sun. But the sheer act of moving to New York—after a lifetime of being fascinated by the place—has keep me in a perpetual state of wonder. The cold hasn’t gotten old. Not yet, anyway. I don’t mind getting layered up and the slow-cooked process of leaving the apartment. The streets are still very much alive every single time we leave our building.

And as long as I’m adequately bundled up, I’m good to go. Even when I’m bitching about the howling wind in my face, I’m secretly loving it and feeling like a badass for enduring the elements.

But, geez, can it be spring already?

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Yesterday was one of our most perfect afternoons yet. Sunny all day. Not a cloud to be found. The bluest of skies. Molly wanted to hop on the F train on our way to Sur La Table in SoHo to cash in a $300 wedding gift card we got from her employer. I pointed out how we were in the midst of the closest thing we’ve had to blissfully perfect weather since we’ve lived in New York and we had to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge today.

So we did. And it was crowded and occasionally scary when an ear budded-biker whizzed by. But the air was crisp and the views were spectacular. And I was with my adorable, bundled up wife—who has been amazing through this transition. My love and admiration grow for her with each passing day. And something as simple as walking from our apartment to the Brooklyn Bridge 5 blocks away for an afternoon stroll over to SoHo, capped off by a walk to the Lower Eastside for a visit with Molly’s aunt Gina—I’m smart enough to know that the little things are, in reality, the biggest and best things. And this simple little day was perfect in my book.

After catching up in Gina’s 4th floor brownstone living room, we walked a few blocks up 2nd Ave. and got a glimpse of the wreckage from last week’s terrible explosion and gas fire. Gina had just gotten off the phone with a copy shop at 7th and 2nd Ave., where the mayhem exploded, and was getting ready to walk up to the shop when the blast occurred 4 blocks from her house. Another reminder to be grateful for what you’ve got—and what you’ve managed to avoid.

We strolled east and ended up at a Jamaican place called Miss Lilly’s 7A Cafe, across the street from Tompkins Square Park—which I’d never seen. My awareness of Tompkins Square is based solely on Lou Reed. But Gina, the perfect New York tour guide, gave me a quick rundown of the last 40 years since she’s been in the neighborhood. After the ladies had a couple cocktails, we parted ways back at Gina’s—with me lugging our new crockpot from Sur La Table to the 2nd Ave. subway stop.

Minutes after we got home, we hooked up with Joel, Molly’s old friend from her previous days as a New Yorker back in the mid-’90s. He took the bus from his place in Prospect Heights and we had our favorite Indian food delivered. It was great to see Joel. He’s lived in NYC for nearly 20 years after growing up in Virginia. Most of that time he’s lived in Brooklyn and worked in Manhattan—at the Garden, at a prestigious prep school and now at the 9/11 memorial. So he’s got some stories and a perspective on living in New York that I’m always eager to hear. It was our first real visit with Joel since we moved here in November, so it was a nice way to end our perfect day/weekend.

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I’m writing all this down because I want to remember what these early days in New York City were like. I’ve wanted to live here my entire life. And now that it’s happening, I want to make sure I’m documenting what the experience is like for me.

So far, I’ve fallen short on doing this.

At least, when it comes to the written word. I’ve been creative in other ways. I’ve shot lots of photos and video with my new camera and posted some of my favorite shots here. I’ve started making videos like this—hopefully with better audio in the future—to start posting at BarstoolPoetry.com. I’ve got a trio of podcasts I’m producing, including this potcast called Amerijuanica. And I’m shooting/editing a series of videos in hopes of getting people to buy these books—especially this one.

But the written word needs to be a priority. And so it was written.

Today is Monday. Hey, we’ve already written this much. Not a bad start to the week. Back to trying to make a buck.

Until tomorrow…

throwback thursday

LampReflection

The view from our living room. Cobble Hill. Brooklyn.

Many people seem to live in the “what if” zone. As in, “What if I’d taken that job?” “What if I’d stuck it out with that girl?” “What if I’d gotten that writing assignment?” “What if I hadn’t had that 13th beer?”

I try not to wallow in this mindfield, mostly because I love who I ended up with and the journey I took to get here. But I was reminded of the “what if” concept when I noticed that #SavedByTheBell was trending on Twitter today, thanks to this hilarious sketch Zack and the gang (minus Screech) pulled off on The Tonight Show last night. (Nice job, Jimmy Fallon! How do these people look almost exactly the same 20 years later?) Watching this sketch and hearing the crowd go nuts for the cast zapped me back 20 years ago. To a meeting I had at a drab Hollywood production office on Santa Monica Blvd., pitching story ideas to Saved By the Bell executive producer Peter Engel.

The pitch meeting happened because I knew a writer on the show, a guy named Jeff Sachs who’d been on the 2-man writing staff with me at this excruciatingly bad NBC sitcom. As happy as I was to get the meeting, the truth of the matter is I thought the show was cheesy and poorly written. And since I was a good 15-20 years older than the target demo, I failed to see the potential writing gig as anything more than a possible paycheck. I didn’t realize the show was carving out a place in the psyches of an entire generation. I missed the show’s lasting kitsch factor and its audience’s ability to see through the wooden acting, trite story lines and tired jokes.

I had no idea that 20 years later audiences would be screaming at the site of the Bayside crew.

But I’m not sure it would have mattered. Despite my snobby attitude about the show, I did manage to come in armed with what I thought was a batch of solid ideas. One day I’ll dive into our overstuffed closet and dig up those old plot lines to see how reliable my memory is.

Bottom line is, Peter Engel didn’t buy any of my ideas, providing yet another opportunity to fortify our rejection armor. Maybe he was only seeing me as a favor to Jeff and wasn’t really looking for fresh ideas or new writers. Or maybe my ideas just stunk—which is saying something for a show with consistently odorous plots. Who knows? Either way, I hold no bitterness or animosity.

But I can’t help but admit that it would’ve been nice to have had at least one produced Saved by the Bell episode to my credit, if for no other reason than to have another bizarre notch on my show biz belt.

Especially on days like today. When I’m reminded that Screech and his pals were getting a lot more love than I ever realized.

unshattered

Apple nirvana. Prince Street. Soho.

Apple nirvana. Prince Street. Soho. New York City, NY. December 2014

Back in early October I upgraded from my shattered iPhone 4 to a shiny new iPhone 6.

Exactly 3 days later, I pulled the phone out of my pocket to check on something for my friend GC after a tasty lunch at Torchy’s Tacos in Austin. Before I knew it, the new phone slipped out of my hand and shattered on impact upon hitting the street. On our wedding day, no less.

Over the last 2 months my spider-webbed screen grew worse by the week. Until a few days ago, I hadn’t bothered to get a protective case. And these new iPhones are sleek, slippery little shits. I’ve dropped mine more than once since our wedding day. So by the time I showed up at the Apple Store in Soho today, my screen had chunks of glass actually missing from the screen. For the first time in my life, I saw behind the smartphone glass curtain. (Not worth breaking glass over, trust me.)

When I showed up on Prince Street today, after a brisk walk from the 2nd Ave. subway stop, I was ready for an upgrade. Time to fix that damn shattered glass and get a fresh start with a clean view. Every time I looked at that thing I was reminded of the fact that I dropped the phone on my wedding day. That’s no way to start a marriage or a life reboot in NYC.

Maybe now you can understand why I walked out of that Temple of Steve today the happiest man in Soho, if not $118 poorer. And the repair job only took an hour—not a week, like the 3rd party repair guy in Austin told me it would.

So my phone and I are gonna try this one more time. We’ve got a real good feeling about this.

And this time around, we’re using protection. Beautiful blue rubber from a CVS in Brooklyn. And only $10 bucks. (The Temple of Steve wanted $40.)

The happy Brooklyn reboot rolls on.