1. Ultimate Warrior


    All little boys have heroes. Ultimate Warrior was one of mine. He died tonight and I will miss him. 

    Growing up, traditional sports were never a part of my life. I didn’t inherit my dad’s favorite baseball team or hear stories about grandpa’s glory days as an All-American. For all the first generation immigrant moxie my parents handed down, I missed out on the library of life lessons most kids get by watching sports in this country. 

    What I did have, however, was wrestling.

    Saturday afternoons with the WWF. I’d go to my cousins’ house after church every week and wait for my aunt and uncle to take their post-church naps before turning on the TV (a forbidden activity on Sabbath). We had to keep the volume low and restrain ourselves from getting too riled up, but you can imagine how successful three boys ages 6, 9, and 10 would be at such a thing. We stomped around the living room like Bushwhackers and put on sunglasses like Macho Man. We’d wear white trash bags as shirts and rip them off like Hulk Hogan. We each had our heroes and they were almost always babyfaces (good guys) - we were nice little Christian boys after all. But for me, Ultimate Warrior was it. THE guy. 

    Warrior was intense. Intense in a way that felt real. Yes, he had a ridiculous body and an unreal poof of hair and bright neon face paint, but he always felt honest to me. There was something in his brand of crazy that passed my eyeball test: this guy means it. I don’t know what “it” is, but he is 100% it. He was a good guy, but not like the other good guys. He didn’t smile all the time like Hulk Hogan or bleed chivalry like Macho Man. Warrior just sprinted down the platform, restored justice in the ring and sprinted back from whence he came. No speech. No pandering. No “Look at me! Love me!” Everyone thought he was crazy and he didn’t care. He didn’t embrace or run from himself. He was always just the Warrior. And I remember wanting to be that. 

    I know wrestling is fake or pre-determined or fixed or whatever you want to call it. And I get that it’s easy to dismiss as terrible. But just remember: all little boys have heroes. And at six years old, most of us can’t grasp the nuances of “greatness” and “character” exemplified in a person like Peyton Manning or Derek Jeter or whatever “real” athlete Nike is selling on TV. Sometimes the best hero is the guy who looks nothing like anything or anyone you’ve ever seen in real life but uses everything he’s got to sprint towards the ring and do the right thing. That’s what the WWF did for me. It taught me about everyday life with a cast of characters who were bigger than everyday life. In wrestling, the good guy doesn’t always win, but what’s important is that he’s the good guy. And in wrestling, good guys come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and 80’s hairstyles. In wrestling, if you try hard enough, you can body slam Andre the Giant. In wrestling, sometimes your friend will betray you and try to steal your girlfriend, the most beautiful woman in your six year old world, Miss Elizabeth, but then you move on with your head held high and become the “heavyweight champion of the woooorld!” What wrestling taught me, is still real to me dammit. To this day, my first and most lasting image of sportsmanship is Warrior and Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania VI. Ultimate Warrior, the beast from Parts Unknown, embracing the most known All-American Good Guy ever made. Warrior taught me about tenacity and getting back up even when all your facepaint has rubbed off and you’re dry heaving from exhaustion. “Get up. Please get up,” I’d say. And you know what? He would. Every time. The Warrior was unstoppable and true to himself. I can’t think of a better pair of values to teach a six year old - from a guy in a neon speedo, no less. 

    So, when I found out Ultimate Warrior died tonight, my inner six year old believed he’d get back up again. He’s the Warrior. Ultimate Warrior always gets back up. I believed that then and maybe a part of me still does now. 


  2. Always. Always. Always choose courage over fear. 


  3. Sometimes a Man

    Sometimes a man gets everything he wants
    and sometimes he wants to give it back.
    Sometimes a man puts the crazy ideas to bed
    and sometimes his thoughts won’t sleep.

    Sometimes a man believes in himself
    and sometimes he pines for a god.
    Sometimes a man lives in fear of a reckoning
    and sometimes a man lives free. 

    Sometimes a man feels he’s wasted his life
    and sometimes he shrugs it off.
    Sometimes a man cannot suffer injustice
    and sometimes he lets it be.

    Sometimes a man loves the woman he loves
    and sometimes he wishes he hadn’t.
    Sometimes a man wants to lay down strong roots
    and sometimes a man wants to flee. 

    Sometimes a man is at peace with himself
    and sometimes his other half wins.                         
    Sometimes a man feels all of these things
    and sometimes that man is me. 


  4. As he looked upon what remained of his people, he knew one thing for certain… his revenge would be sweet.


  5. my best and truest friend


  6. my guy and me in our little world of two. (mom was out drinking “coffee”) (at Verdugo Park)


  7. mikerugnetta:


    h/t peter h.

    (Source: internet, via peterhassett)


  8. unfiltered deer. (at Frederick, MD)


  9. Conversations That Are Way Too Deep for a Four Year Old

    A young boy teeters on the ledge of a loading dock behind Safeway. His father stands at the ready just beneath him at street level.

    "Come closer!"

    "You can do it, Son." 

    "Daddy, come closer. It’s too far." 

    "Come on, Sport. It’ll be alright. I’ll catch you." 

    "No. Closer." 

    "Come on, son. Just jump. You’re a big boy now. Four years old. You can do this." 

    The boy is crying now. 

    "Son, look at me. You can spend this time wondering if you could… or a lifetime knowing that you did. You decide."

    The boy cries more. 


  10. Limbo


    He parked the car and lightly grabbed her wrist as she unbuckled the seatbelt.

    "Hold on," he said, "this is the best part."

    They sat frozen while the last two notes of the song played. He gave her wrist a gentle squeeze then let go.

    "So good," she said.

    "Ok, now we can go. Time to drink," he said.

    They stepped out to fresh snow fluttering about - thick flakes, the ones that lingered in the air and feathered down hanging on to the spaces in-between. They walked silently into the diner and headed for the back corner booth. 

    "How is this table always open for us?" she asked. 

    He leaned in and whispered, “Fate.” 

    "Yeah it is. Three times now," she replied. 

    She widened her eyes with playful excitement. He returned the look and they laughed.

    They settled into opposite sides of the booth as a blonde waitress arrived dressed in white. ”How yall doin? Can I get yall anything to drink? It’s cold out there isn’t it?” she asked. 

    "I’ll have a vodka tonic," she said.

    "A double scotch - neat, for me please. That should warm me up."

    "That it? Anything to eat tonight, darlin?" the waitress asked him. 

    "No, thank you. Just the drinks for now please," he said. 

    The waitress walked away and the two turned back to watch the snow through the window. He caught her reflection in the glass and could see her eyes were tired. He wanted to be needed. She caught him staring. He lowered his head and winked his eyebrows up and down. 

    She laughed. “Stupid…!” 

    She turned to face him and let out a small sigh. 

    "What am I gonna do when you leave?" she asked. 

    "You know I’ll still be around." he said

    She looked square into his eyes. “Not really. It’ll just be me by myself again. Alone again.” 

    "It won’t be that bad. It’s not like we’ll stop talking," he said.

    "I know. I’m just sick of being alone. It’s the worst." She looked away as the waitress returned with their drinks.    

    He sipped his scotch and held it, letting it coat his mouth before speaking.

    "There are worse things than being alone," he said.

    "Like what?" she asked.

    "Like being torn between two," he said.

    She looked away, back out the window, watching the flight of snowflakes on the night’s canvas. 

    He lost her eyes, but continued. “There’s nothing worse than two loves. Neither can know the whole truth. Neither can have all of you. Neither are getting what they deserve. You’re in limbo between them. Alone.”

    She glanced back at him. “Whatever. You still get to go home to someone.”

    "True. But for what?" he asked. "To fantasize about the other? To go half the way with both? It’s beyond loneliness. It’s guilt and regret hanging between two hearts and you face it alone."

    He blinked hard twice and averted his eyes back out the window.   

    "There are worse things than being alone," he said. 

    They sat and watched the snow. He took another drink - bigger this time.

    It was 11:43 and his wife was expecting him home. 


  11. What I Saw: James Turrell’s Afrum

    Two beams of light converged to construct an infinite cube inside the corner of a finite wall and I was speechless. Light had ripped a perfect hole in the hulking mass of steel and concrete before me. Light - in its perk and precision, changed everything. Light created depth where there was none. And that same depth, upon closer inspection, would lie flat against my palm as the shadow of my hand touched the wall. The wall that was, indeed, still there. I had stumbled into a new world. And for all the psychedelic babble that might inspire, I say this much with confidence: Today, I saw things I didn’t know were there. 

    There is depth to everything. That’s what I saw today and it confirmed what I thought I always knew. Two beams of light affirmed my search for meaning in all things. Every thing, person, and idea has depth. Sometimes it’s a hidden dimension unseen by the careless, and sometimes what looks like an infinite well of potential and possibility is actually just a mirage on a wall. My aim in life, then, is to explore every person, place, thing, or idea, deeply; because things are pretty much never what they seem. Face value lost all value for me today and I was reminded that being too quick to judge may be the most tragic mistake a man can make in life. There are misunderstood people to be loved, unexpected joys to be had, and hidden meanings to be found if you take a deeper look. 

    Two beams of light transformed a darkness and that’s what I saw today.



  13. that? that’s a tree, son.


  14. image

    Hey there, Kid.
    One day you’re gonna grow up to have a head the size of a watermelon. Sure, you’ll have a good three decades with a nice thick head of hair in a variety of faux-hawk designs before it’s all said and done, but make no mistake: your face will be the size of a fucking deep dish pizza after puberty. Blame your dad. You’ll try try to blame him for other things too, like your lack of direction in choosing a meaningful career or your impulsive desire to quit everything at the earliest sign of any adversity or discomfort, but trust me, you have only yourself to blame for that. Revel in these bowl-coiffed times, child; they are some of your best. You can actually jog 30 feet without sucking air like you’ve just been tossed from a wave. You’re still an overachiever. You won’t believe the obnoxious little piss ant clown you become in seventh grade and you’ll kick yourself when you see that SAT score; let’s just say you barely crack four figures. Spoiler alert.

    Yeah, it’s disappointing, I know. Get used to it. That might be the defining word of your adult life. Not because life has let you down. You did. You’ll spend most of your nights wondering what the fuck happened and what might have been had you stuck with it longer, ate fewer carbs, and applied yourself now and again. But hey, tough shit. Oh and did I mention the crippling depression that will come and go? Yeah, brace yourself. Don’t worry, you don’t actually have anything to be depressed about, but you won’t be able to help yourself. And the older you get, the more you’ll think you have a handle on it while being completely confused by it. You’ll call yourself a talentless piece of shit and then stay in bed until the guilt of never having left the bed keeps you there another 12 hours or so. Have fun with that.

    In about 20 years, you’ll fancy yourself a shrugging writer with a beautiful wife and dog. You’ll live a modest life with earnest ambitions, but you’re really quite clueless; a wandering underachiever still searching for something worth trying for. You won’t find it. But man, the weather in California is gorgeous. You’re gonna love the burritos too. Just look in the mirror (but not with your shirt off. Never with your shirt off!). Before you know it, it’ll be time for you to have a smiling little bowl-cut pumpkin of your own. And you’ll realize that all of your big dreams are just that. Dreams. You’ve been a lazy son of a bitch who can’t figure out what he’s supposed to do. You wanna do something meaningful with your life? Right. I’m sure selling advertising is the way to do it, asshole.

    But hey, it’s not all bad. Actually, it’s mostly great. You’ll have had no real personal tragedies in life. And you’ll laugh a lot more than you do anything else. The video games are pretty sweet as time goes on and wait ‘til you try weed for the first time. Jesus. Speaking of which, don’t worry about all that. It goes away in your late 20s and never comes back. Try harder at other things. Your knowledge of the Gospel of John is surprisingly useless. Trust me.

    All bullshit aside, life is good. It’s a weird balance of unspeakably awful tragedy and heart-warming triumphs of humanity, but the scales tend to tip towards the good most of the time. Except on Sundays - the Redskins will ruin your life.

    It’s a good life you’ve got coming, kid. Just keep that smile on your face and take comfort knowing the french fries only taste sweeter and sweeter with each passing year. They double fry them (Belgian style) at a few places and it will blow your mind. Spoiler alert.


  15. when I discovered that there’s a real agency called Wong, Doody, Crandall, Wiener



    I’m sure they’re awesome.

    A proud day.