Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Here's a poem I wrote last New Year's Eve. Seeing how I didn't have a blog then, you're getting it now.


Another year down whisked away from contemporary
to history.
Another year on the horizon
approaching rapidly
gaining speed like the five horse on the back stretch.
In less than six hours, we’ll all be that much older
and not much wiser
Who are we to think this date holds any real relevance?
Tomorrow is nothing more than Tuesday to me
Or is it Wednesday? Pretty sure Tuesday
But others see hope, a new path, a clean slate
Like religion, whatever gets someone from point A
to point B – what do I care?
We love to make promises we know we won’t keep
yet we do it anyway
because the idea is more important than the doing.
No, the thought isn’t what counts
In my mind, I think I’m a great writer with an overflow of cash in the bank
and legions of fans worldwide.
Red carpet treatment galore, no waiting in lines or paying full price
The rest of society might take issue with me if I acted like this were true
but I don’t pretend so I don’t disappoint
Tonight’s the night for washing away failure and the realization that
we’re all stuck on the same sinking ship
Nowhere to go but overboard

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Saw Snoop at the Glasshouse in Pomona last night. I thought it was going to be tha Doggfather, Warren G and the Twins, but it turned out to also include the Lady of Rage, tha Dogg Pound and Suga Free. Not bad for free tickets.

I caught the tail end of the Twins. Holy shit did it smell like weed in there. There were people freely smoking pot everywhere for the entire show. In all my years of going to shows, I've never seen such a high percentage of smokers mixed with a venue with such a hands-off approach. Even Daz lit up a doobie on stage.

Well...when in Rome, do as the Romans. So I sparked one during a song by Rage and the DPGC. I was about 10 people deep from the stage. Through the crowd I saw a security guard watch as I smoked. I looked at him, he looked at me. I exhaled and kept smoking. Nice!

Each act used the same deejay, which led me to wonder...remember when the DJ was like the drummer? A couple people know his name and he gets a few minutes to strut his stuff? Not anymore. DJs circa 2008 are glorified karaoke jocks responsible for playing the right backing track. No cutting. No scratching. No hyping. Weak.

The crowd was mixed, mostly young people I'd say. There was a small group of dudes who were yelling something about East LA at Warren G. This was the only tense moment of the night as most of the young white people expected a shootout. But cooler heads prevailed.

Rage was good, better than I expected. Tha Dogg Pound was also really good. Warren G was tight, even if no one seemed to know anything but "Regulate." I have his debut and it's classic. I dug hearing those songs live. I can't say the same for anyone else.

Seeing Snoop up close was killer. I hadn't seen him in a small venue since 1997 and man, can he still rock a mic. I wished for more Doggystyle songs, but that was 15 years ago. The good news was, Snoop's such a good live performer that I was interested in whatever song he was doing, regardless of whether or not I knew it. He didn't take a moment for a small chronic break, but that's ok. He did plug his TV show and C walk a little.

Compared with the Snoop show opening for 311 in June, this was as good a show, but for different reasons. For starters, I didn't have to deal with 311 fans. Snoop was closer, but he didn't use a live band, just a DJ. Apples and oranges, I suppose.

The show was much better than this review. I'd tell you more, but I was high as a kite. The one thing I took away from the show was this...There isn't a more weed friendly crowd than Snoop's.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


As a holiday gift, I am sharing a chapter from my still-incomplete novel that has to do with the season. PLEASE comment on this. Tell me what you think. Even if it's negative. I don't care.

I didn’t know what to expect from the office buffoons regarding my first Christmas season at the Daily Gazette, but as a devout agnostic and overall holiday hater, I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty. I was right.

It didn’t take long for me to understand the nature of the daily newspaper business. Days off were few and far between and those we observed always came with a price. For example, we got off President’s Day, but the Thursday and Friday before and Tuesday and Wednesday after were guaranteed stress days that made even me, a guy who took every opportunity he could not to go to work, say fuck it and come in to avoid four miserable days.

MLK’s birthday? Forget it. I had a dream too. That dream was to get his birthday recognized as a reason to sleep in. No one agreed. But Thanksgiving and especially Christmas were not in the same category as Busch leaguers such as the Fourth of July and Memorial Day. I just knew the time off procedure would be different, but the stomachache and hangover I endured behind my desk the day after Thanksgiving proved me wrong.

This wasn’t the first time I went to work with a pounding headache and it wouldn’t be the last. But something was different. Just after my lunch, which consisted of pretzels and a large Gatorade, a singing quartet wearing bonnets and stockings floated into the features department. They came from around a corner that separated the so-called respectable reporters of the city desk and the perceived hacks in my section. They turned to face the string of employees and, to no one in particular, began singing.

“”Tis the season to be jolly…” The night before I drank too much Thanksgiving wine, but I was one hundred percent certain I did not drop any acid. My head shook left, shook right. For the first time since I was hired, the people I worked with looked as confused, upset and embarrassed as I was. Finally, we all shared something in common: A complete lack of comprehension for what the hell was going on.

After their song, the foursome walked in front of me and decided that was the perfect stage to perform another tune.

“You better watch out, you better not cry…” I thought twice about whapping each one of these suckers with the mouthpiece of my phone, but didn’t for fear that I might have to pay for the damages to the equipment.

We clapped politely as they were finished and deep down I knew everyone wanted them to leave as badly as I did. Twice in my life I was so desperate I prayed to God. The first was when I was 17. I fucked a girl and she missed her period, but had one four days later than normal. This was the second. Both times, I got what I wanted, but still I doubted God’s existence.

Behind the singers – literally and figuratively – was Gerald, an old man who worked as the paper’s librarian for thirty seven years. Sometimes I had to make small talk with him, but conversing was more difficult with him than with the other schmucks because Gerald couldn’t breathe thanks to a distended belly that might have come from the personal coffeemaker he kept on his desk. I needed my java as much as the next guy, unless the next guy was Gerald. Mainly I knew this mammoth of a man as the dude you did not want to walk in on when he was taking a shit. All that caffeine really got to him as he’d go into the handicapped stall and huff and puff until he birthed a grandchild. His grunts and groans conjured images of hemorrhoids bursting from his ass. He’d talk to himself during the procedure, which made it hard not to laugh while taking a leak.

Gerald walked slowly behind the singers because Gerald could only walk slowly. He was too fat for anything else. When the group was on to the sports department, Gerald spoke up.

“Hey everybody… these guys are working for free… so let’s show them some appreciation.” I thought that meant clap some more, but then I saw Sally contort her body halfway to reach for her wallet. Fuck that. No way I’m paying for that shit.

The incident left me speechless. It was Friday, November 26 and here we were ushering in Christmas? There were photos to download, emails to print and a feel-good story about a local man who got through chemo by growing tomatoes on his balcony to get to, but I couldn’t do it. For once, I wanted to be working, so that’s what I pretended to do. I opened a new screen and wrote what turned out to be lyrics to a song called “It’s Not December.”
It’s November 26
and I don’t care what they say
It’s just way to early
to celebrate the holidays

It’s not even Decemeber
and maybe I can’t remember
but the last week of November
is not even December

Puzzled looks on faces
all around the office
How did they get in here?
and when are they leaving?

Thankfully, Gerald retired soon after and the carolers never returned.

That was one memory from my first Christmas at the Daily Gazette that I soon wouldn’t forget. But it didn’t stop there. Three weeks before the birth of Christ, Sally informed me that I was volunteered to create a list of every holiday-related event going on within a fifteen-mile range of the Daily Gazette’s downtown Long Beach office. “Call every city and ask them what they are doing for Christmas,” she said, “and make sure you don’t leave anything or anyone out. You’ll get calls if you do.”

I didn’t know where to begin. Luckily, Sally gave me a copy of the previous year’s list and I went off that. Some cities were easy, others were not. I preferred getting information via email so I could cut and paste the text into my story, but nothing at the Daily Gazette was ever that easy. Most I talked to wanted to fax their programs, which meant manually typing all the whos, whats, whens and wheres. Others wanted to recite the info over the phone as if I knew the correct spellings of all the unknown musicians and actors they were using in their plays and concerts. And some wanted to send the info through regular mail, which would have delayed the process by however long it took the Postal Service to deliver the letters. Still, by the end of the day, I had seventy-five percent of the necessary information and the story wasn’t due for four days. Of course, that time was spent calling the cities of South Gate, Paramount, Norwalk, Seal Beach and Wilmington to ask where the hell their info was. The first two had absolute idiots working for them who must have had a parent high up at the city. Norwalk still hadn’t decided on what they were doing for Christmas and the last two were nothing but phone numbers that no one answered. I dialed the Seal Beach City Hall to inquire and the woman who answered told me to call the number I already had. I explained my predicament, but she said the city had nothing to do with those events. Then I tried Wilmington, a port town run by Los Angeles. With all the shit going on in LA, you can imagine how much a priority it was for those officials to return my calls.

South Gate and Paramount came through on the day my story was due. Norwalk emailed me the info three days after the story ran and I’m still waiting to hear from Seal Beach and Wilmington.

I rolled my bike in slightly past 10:30 a.m., took my seat and checked the phone messages. The recorded voice told me I had fourteen new voicemails, which wasn’t out of the ordinary. I was jotting down the info from a woman who wanted to place an ad when the red light lit up, telling me someone was calling. I clicked the receiver and answered.

“Daily Gazette.”

“Yes. Is this Jim Hall?” I was shocked. Almost no one ever asked for me by name.

“Yes it is.”

“Well, I’ve been a subscriber for fifty-two years and never have I been as offended as I was this morning.” This sounded good, so I put down my notepad, leaned back in the chair and actually listened to the old bag.

“Ok. Why?” At previous gigs, I’d written all sorts of offensive things, some intentionally. But my hands were tied so tightly at the Daily Gazette that I couldn’t have pissed off anyone intentionally or not.

“I was reading your Christmas round-up story and you have at least four mentions of cities with ‘holiday’ events. Why can’t you just say ‘Christmas’ like the rest of us?”

I had no clue what the old lady was talking about, so I picked up the phone and stretched the chord as far as it could go so I could lean over and pick up a paper sitting at the vacant desk nearby. Combing through my story, I saw what she was talking about, but was confused as to why it bothered her. “Ma’am, can you explain this to me again? I understand what you’re talking about, but I don’t see the problem.”

“Goddamnit, it’s Christmas. Not ‘holiday.’ Christmas is the celebration of the birth of our lord and savior Jesus Christ. Show him the respect he deserves. He died on the cross for chrissakes.”

Now I got it, but wasn’t sure if it was worth the effort to explain to her that I didn’t name these events, I just reported them. The person, or people, she should have called were the ones who organized these gatherings. Not me. But I didn’t get the chance.

“And another thing…how dare you put Xmas in your article? It’s one thing to say ‘holiday,’ but if you’re going to say ‘Christmas,’ say ‘Christmas.’”

This woman sounded like her decrepit head was about to explode, so I did my best to calm her down.

“Ma’am, I didn’t name those things. The cities did. I just reported it.”

“Well why’d you do that? If you knew they were wrong, you should have corrected them.”

“I never said I thought they were wrong.”

“Oh, so you do think it’s ok to use ‘holiday’ and ‘Xmas?’ What’s wrong with you people? First you switch to ink that runs all over my hands and now this.”

“I didn’t say that either. It’s my job to report the facts, ma’am. I can’t add or subtract information based on personal beliefs or I’d get fired.”

“Maybe you should be fired.” Then she hung up. I wanted to trace the call, track her down and slit her throat while I shit in a copy of my story to shove down her old ass throat. But I didn’t. The holidays already put me in a bad mood and I didn’t need to go to jail for killing someone who was bound to die soon anyway.

A day later the entire office got a message from someone named Erin. It read, “Come see me to sign up for Secret Santa.” I deleted it instantly and thought nothing of it. By Friday, Erin, whom I’d never met before, appeared at my desk.

“Hey Jim, I’m Erin. I noticed you haven’t signed up for Secret Santa yet, so I wanted to make sure you got your name before the weekend.”

“Got my name?”

“Yeah, of the person you’re shopping for. Here, it’s Todd, the night janitor.”

I was caught so off guard that for once in my life I had nothing to say. “You wha?”

“Every year we do Secret Santa here. You know what that is, don’t you?” I nodded yes. “You’re the only person who didn’t sign up and I tried looking for you Wednesday, but Sally said you had already left. And I was gone all yesterday. That’s why it’s taken me so long to get to you. Sorry.”

“But I don’t want to be in Secret Santa.” Erin’s demeanor went from annoyingly bubbly to depressed with a hint of confusion. Her shoulders slumped, her smile turned upside down and her brow was filled with lines that indicated she was trying to process what I had said.

“You don’t want to be in Secret Santa? Why not?”

“I just don’t want to.” It was the truth. I had no real reason other than not giving a fuck.

“No one ever says no. It throws off the balance because somebody has you and now you need to have somebody.”

“No I don’t. What I need is to get back to work. Please remove me.”

“But it doesn’t work that way. You have to.”

“Look, I don’t want to, now please leave me alone.” I was getting upset and it was showing. “I don’t celebrate Christmas with my family or friends and I’m sure as hell not celebrating it here.”

“Fine. I guess that means I have to buy Todd’s present.”

“I guess that’s what you get for being in charge of Secret Santa.”

Monday, December 27. Late afternoon. I was sitting at the communal Mac downloading some pictures for Sally. Her chair and this computer were separated by a makeshift wall that a previous power-tripping editor erected as a form of distancing themselves from the other peasants in the department. They sat about six feet apart, close enough to see and hear what the other person is doing.

The rarest of rare occurred. Dick Thompson, the paper’s editor, number two man at the Daily Gazette, came over to the features department. In my eight months on the job, I’d never seen him in this part of the building. He approached Sally, who had to put on a pleasantly surprised face, and handed her something.

“Hey Sally, workin’ hard? Can you be a doll and do me a favor and give this to Jim Hall? Thanks so much.” Hearing my name, I looked up and saw him leave my boss’ office. Sally looked at the piece of paper she was given, stood up and called me in.

“Hey Jim, can you come here a second?” I thought I was in trouble, for what, I wasn’t sure. Sally reached out her left hand without looking up and said, “this is for you.” I took it back to my desk and opened it. Inside was a Christmas card from the Thompson family. The inscription read: “Thanks for all your work Jim. You really help make the Daily Gazette the best paper in Long Beach.” Hmm, I thought. The Daily Gazette is the only paper in Long Beach.

Then I got to looking at Dick’s two college-age daughters. One was a plumper wearing a Colorado State sweater, but the other was a gorgeous brunette with a UCLA t-shirt. How nice, wearing your college gear for daddy’s Christmas card. I took a mental note and instructed myself to remember her name. Holly. If I ever met a Holly Thompson from UCLA, I’d do my best to not just fuck her, but cum in her hair.

It wasn’t until I was rounding up my thermos before heading home that I realized the idiocy of Dick’s card. First, Christmas was two days prior. Second, I was within earshot of him when he handed it to Sally, which meant he was excused for not giving me my card on time because he had absolutely no idea who I was or that I even worked for the paper. To top it all off, the card lacked anything of monetary value. No Christmas bonus, no $10 gift certificate to pay for half of an overpriced CD at Best Buy, no raise, no health insurance, no new car, no nothing. Season’s greetings indeed.


For weeks I convinced my friend to start a blog to detail her life. You see, she lives with her 93-year-old grandmother, her mother, her husband and her daughter. Not to mention the dogs and cats and fish.

Everyday she told me about the wackiness that is her home life. "You gotta document this stuff," I kept telling her. Well, like a smart individual, she took my advice. Here's a link to her site. I hope she continues because I won't get to hear these stories any more and I'm way too deep to not find out how this ends.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


I've got a bunch of friends performing at this thing. I'll be there. So should you.

A casual and intimate evening involving a festive gathering of friends, family, and foreigners... All performing in sparser, and mellower ways than you might usually expect from these artists. Featuring...
The Duke Spirit

Dead Meadow

The Entrance Band

Josh Homme (Screaming Trees, Kyuss)

Jeordie 'Twiggy' White (Marilyn Manson)

Sweethead (feat. Troy Van Leeuwen of QOTSA)

Aaron North, Troy 'Boy' Petrey & Fiends (Jubilee, Rob Gnarley)

Alain Johannes (Eleven)

Nick Jago (BRMC)

Xu Xu Fang

Dean Fertita (QOTSA, The Raconteurs)

Alessandro Cortini (NIN, Modwheelmood)

Wires On Fire

Dios Malos

HT Heartache

Sid Brown (feat. Bryan Brown of Bluebird)

Todd Congelliere (The Underground Railroad To Candyland, Toys That Kill, F.Y.P)

Tony Bevilacqua (Spinnerette, The Distillers, The Drips, Darker My Love, Har Mar Superstar)

Birthday Twin (feat. Fred Sablan of Goon Moon)

Brandon Intelligator & The Sheriffs

Tsk Tsk (The Breeders, Work Sucks, Balloon)

Ryan Ritchie (performing short stories, rantings, poetry, etc.)

...And many, many more VERY special guests to be announced soon! There will also be a photo / art exhibition including contributions (which will also be available for purchase) from Nick Jago, Chrissy Piper, Aaron Farley, Sonny Kay, and Travis Keller. Also, a raffle contest giving YOU the chance to win multiple boxes of over 4,000 brand new, useless, old, and shitty Buddyhead cd's! Plus giveaways, and various other underwhelming and anticlimactic surprises!!!

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

@ The Hotel Cafe in Hollywood

1623 1/2 N. Cahuenga Blvd., 90028

Doors @ 7pm



Sunday, December 7, 2008


Last night I had a weird dream. It went like this...

I was driving on what I think was the 5 freeway somewhere in the middle of California. Instead of a car, I was behind the wheel of a Radio Flyer, those red thingys kids have. I pulled into one of those towns that just appear on highways in the middle of nowhere. There aren't many of them in the Golden State, but hey, this is a dream, not reality.

For some reason, I needed to make a U-turn. So I did. about fifty yards ahead of me was a cop car waiting for someone to mess up. That's what these towns are for -- speed traps for people who have been driving 90 miles an hour all day to suddenly slow down to 45. Like that's gonna happen.

The pig pulled me over and my dream fast forwarded to me being at the police station. The cop, a female, was asking all sorts of questions in a very condescending way. This obviously was a dream because cops never do that sort of thing. She was pulling out backpacks and luggage from my Radio Flyer and inquiring about the contents. I told her she had free reign to look for whatever she wanted.

At this point I was fairly calm, even though I knew I had a stash of weed and a pipe on me. I just didn't care, probably because I had one of those medicinal cards that seemingly everyone in this state has.

The cop pulled out a bunch of clothes and asked me to unfold them so she could see if anything was inside. I obliged, knowing eventually what she was looking for was in another bag, not hidden at all. The pig took out my clothes, my asthma inhalers, my CDs and journal and started flinging them all over the room. Then I got pissed.

Just then this family from my hometown showed up. I used to play Little League and basketball with the oldest son. I kid you not when I say I have not seen or thought about these people in probably 15 years. But there they were. I recognized them and they me. I never bothered to ask why they were at the station, but somehow their presence combined with the cop making a mess of my stuff turned me into a raging lunatic.

I started yelling at the officer and told her to speed up. I was in a hurry and just could not be bothered. She wasn't amused. Bag after bag, she searched and found nothing. I remember being amazed at how much stuff I had inside a Radio Flyer, but that's what dreams do, or should I say don't do, which by that I mean they don't make sense.

I wanted to just point out my stash so I could get back on the road. But before I could, the pig found it. She turned around and had a big "AHA" look on her face. She asked why I didn't tell her about the pot and I told her I didn't think I had to. Then she went into a long diatribe about how busted I was and all that jazz. Knowing I had a get out of jail free card in my pocket (and a very tiny amount of weed), I let her continue with the song and dance. But I spoke up once she tried to cuff me. I reached in my pocket and showed her my doctor's recommendation and her jaw fell to the floor. I told her I'd own this sorry excuse for a town if she wanted to make a big deal of this situation. I could tell she didn't, so I pressed harder, explaining how much of a big shot I was and went into explicit detail about my pending lawsuit even if she left me off Scott free. And then I left.

Unfortunately, I don't remember anything after this point. My guess is my Radio Flyer and I made it home safely.

OK all you dream interpreters out in cyberspace...tell me what this means because I sure as hell don't have a clue.