Mirror, Mirror

I want one of those mirrors where a comb over looks good.

I want one of those mirrors where having cottage cheese thighs and wearing short shorts looks hot.

I want one of those mirrors where wearing a t-shirt that says “I’m with Stupid” is still funny.

I want one of those mirrors where applying make up so that the color on the face is different from the color on the neck makes me not look like a clown.

I want one of those mirrors where wearing a muscle-T after 50 looks awesome.

I want one of those mirrors where lots of sparkles and fake gems on t-shirts makes me look wealthy and regal.

I want one of those mirrors like Richard Simmons has that says, “yeah that tank top and striped shorts looks great, no one’s making me into a caricature of my former self.”

I want one of those mirrors that only shows the plastic surgery so I don’t see the rest of my wrinkled, decaying body and the illusion seems worth all the money.

Truth be told, I admire all those people. Because I’m too self-conscious and sometimes wish I wouldn’t get so nukey (it’s a word-my word) about a little fat and could let it all hang out at the gym. My hat off to you! Oh wait, I don’t like being bald, the hat covers that up. At least in the mirror.

The Legend of the Last Follicle


      The first thing Petey saw were the big, controlling eyes and the last thing was the pink razor as it climbed the horizon.  Then he passed out.

     No one was sure exactly what day Peter was born, nor the week.  Let’s just call it the spring of 1962.  The first year of Peter’s life was really just about being wet and dry depending on how much of Nana Rose’s spit was left on the top of Stephen’s head as she repeatedly smooched Peter and his friends.

Toddlers have no regard for where their head goes; be it dirt or poop, and since he was the one that laughed the loudest his friends soon thought Petey fit him much better.  Boys wore crew cuts in those days and Petey and the gang reveled in the muck and mire that young boys allowed themselves to get into long before a bath entered their lives.

The teenage years flashed their rebel wave and Petey and a few of his friends broke off from the group.  They named themselves Cowlick and refused to conform to the way everyone else was going.  Soon the rest realized the fun they were missing and joined in: Stephen’s twenties filled them with alternating mousse, dancing under flashing lights and rolling around in different sheets.  The party seemed like it couldn’t end, all the changes in length and blow dryers filling their lives with excitement.  If they’d only noticed the danger that lurked on the other side of Stephen’s head as a few of their brethren had lost their lives in the fight against male pattern baldness.

But no.  The 90s was a time for ponytails and the truth was covered up.  The entire head felt alive as each follicle was stroked and pulled back!  On weekend mornings the boys were all let loose to fly, shake and jam to the grunge metal tunes of Stephen’s iPod; his head banging up and down to the beats of Pearl Jam was like a non-stop thrill induced roller coaster ride. But then it happened:  more hairs clogged the drain, the brush collected many of his friends, and Petey stopped growing.

In a bold and mature move, Stephen opted not to try to cover his bald spot, which was now more than visible through the long hairs; and cut his hair very short.  In the ensuing few years the length got shorter and shorter and more members of the old gang passed on.   Finally, Stephen opted for the shaved head.

Petey was scared.  As the hot water and bath wash that had once brought so much pleasure now signaled the end, he stood shaking as the screams of all of his boyhood friends rang in his ears and were silenced in the drain.  Minutes passed by, feeling like hours.  He looked around and realized he was still there and was being dried off.  He had made it!  You see, Petey had three things going for him:  he was only a centimeter in length, he lived on a scar and he was gray.  He went unnoticed.  And then she showed up!

Stephen’s girlfriend Margie moved in and took over the job of inspecting and approving Stephen’s hygiene and appearance regiment.  So this fateful day Petey woke to the sight of the blade and knew this was the end.  About to pass out again, he shook as she stroked him with the edge of her finger.  “You know, it’s kind of cute.”

Scenes From A Train Part 3: The Bus

I’m off the train and passed my gas into the bushes. I’m on the bus now to Burbank for my early show for the library. Yesterday I was at their downtown library and was disappointed. Not in the show but I didn’t get to my joke. Johnny Carson used to always refer to “beautiful downtown Burbank” on the Tonight Show and I’ve thought of referencing that for weeks. But it turns out they get so many kids the parents can’t stay; there’s not enough room. So I tell the librarian about my missed opportunity. She reminds me that these parents aren’t that old so they wouldn’t have gotten it either. Ouch. That reminds me I just discovered that my elbows are really dry and scaly and crackly. When the hell did I get old man elbows? Someone thought I was fifteen years younger last night. Oh well you’re as old as you feel so I’m a hundred and two.

My friend insisted I take his car yesterday so here’s scenes
from that commute:

F*ck. F*ck. F*CK!!! The g*d d*mn GPS said 43 minutes! Road work?! There is none! Why are you idiots slowing down?!

So much calmer today. The bus driver is so nice I’m worried he’s been drinking. But they are a lot nicer than I remember Chicago drivers being, but I hadn’t been on the bus there since the 80s so maybe it was a union mandate for the 21st Century.

Everyone’s so nice on this bus and I’m so glad I’m not grumpy. I should understand: many of the people headed downtown probably don’t like their jobs. I’m headed to make a couple hundred kids and their parents laugh. Life is good. Enjoy your day.

Scenes From A Train Part 2

I’m writing this underground on the second train of today’s commute so it will post at North Hollywood. No seats so I’m standing. I feel guilty. A tiny Hispanic woman kept pushing at my bag and me as she tried to get by everyone to get down the escalator and onto the train to a job she probably hates. Twice I asked her, nicely, to please stop pushing. Finally I elbowed her over the side. I’m pretty sure she was ok: she landed on her over-sized bag and her eyes were open.

There’s a woman staring at me. At least I think she’s staring at me, she’s wearing sunglasses so I can’t see her eyes. I’m pretty sure she’s staring at me because I have no tattoos. She’s covered in them. There’s one across her chest and I want to read what it says but I don’t want her to think I’m looking at her boobs. Wait a sec, she got it there. She had to have lay there for hours while the tattoo guy did it. Maybe it was her boyfriend so it was ok. Maybe it says “howdy” because she has friendly boobs? Maybe it says “I’m up here” with an arrow pointing to her eyes so she can catch guys with her feminist ways? I better not chance it, I figure women that can withstand the pain of getting all those tats likes to inflict it. I’ll look the other way.

The Red Line heads to Hollywood so there’s always interesting characters. There’s Purple Guy I see a lot: completely dressed in purple including the large feather in his fedora. He’s either really a pimp or played one on a 70s cop show and the never got another gig and these are the only clothes he owns. Today there’s a drag queen, African-American, thin with vey taut muscles wearing a silver lame (please put the accent in, I don’t know how to find it on the iPhone) dress that shows off his/her legs. How do you say it? I would assume he’d rather be called she, I mean she would rather not be called he. You get it. I wish the Hispanic woman from the Blue line had gotten on because I think she should give silver girl her jeweled iPhone, it would look really good with the dress. And her copy of Ebony! And I bet the transvestite would have hair tips for the other woman.

Oh crap I have to fart. Oh man, this is embarrassing. I can feel it’s not going to be silent. Or odor free. Oh jeez and there’s a stop and a half. What do I do? Think about baseball. Oh no that’s for sex. What if I don’t let it out? I think farts are funny so I tend to let them loose and then laugh. Does it build up until it comes out my mouth? Or nose? Eeekkks. I’m saved. North Hollywood. More later.

Scenes From A Train

I sit on the Blue Line riding towards downtown. In front of me a woman that smells nice is texting on a fake jewel covered phone. Does she think that looks fancy cause I just think it looks gaudy? She’s not a teenager, that I understand and she’s dressed rather lovely. She’s a light skinned Hispanic woman and she’s reading a copy of Ebony magazine. Is her boyfriend African-American or does she just think
Black people are cooler like I do?

The woman beside me is frantically playing solitaire on her phone. Who wakes up and has to play solitaire? I wonder about her gambling problem. She looks very nice, she’s older: gray hair and no wedding ring. I bet she has cats. Lots of them. They sit on her shoulder and her lap while she plays solitaire with real cards. That’s why she plays solitaire on the train! She misses her cats and this quells her depression.

18 out of 30 people on the train are wearing sunglasses. How many are hiding hangovers vs. how many are just tired and want to go back to sleep? The dude with the chin on his chest; will he wake up in time for his stop?

A woman five seats behind me is talking with a gravely voice on her cel phone. Can she not hear very well and not know she’s talking that loud or does she want everyone to know about how her daughter never calls?

Half the people in my immediate perimeter are on cell phones. Are they blogging about me? Yeah well that sweater is not a good color on you lady and seriously dude, a shower would have been thoughtful. Oh crap the woman in the sweater just moved to the seat formerly occupied by unshaven man. She smiled. She wasn’t giving me a dirty look, the sun was in her eyes. I’m sorry about the sweater thing but really you have a nice smile so maybe a brighter green? Oh oh, we just stopped at Slauson station and a mean looking woman just sat down next to her. She’s wearing a Hello Kitty or some Japanese character t-shirt and she’s got to be late 30s, early 40s. Maybe she’s just a smoker. Only the last two fingers of her left hand have nail polish on them. Black. Is that a gang thing? I’m worried about pukey green sweater girl.

What? I have to exit the train? Why???? I’ve been saying this out loud?

Water Cooler Talk I

Being self-employed I don’t enjoy the chit-chat that happens at the water cooler. So as I refill my glass from the Brita, I put my random  thoughts out to you.
My seventh grade social studies teacher, while instructing us in the ways of the branches of government, told us that government was “by the people, for the people.” Oops.
Why do the people walking with other people, who are wearing ear or headphones, stand for it?
I just passed a Chinese food take-out that was open at 7:00am. You’re gonna be hungry in an hour, then how are you going to do your job? A donut would have lasted a lot longer.
If Sponge Bob Square Pants lives in the ocean he would absorb it all, so how come he doesn’t look like he took a dump in his shorts?
NOTE TO DRIVERS: That big, thick white line that comes before the stop sign is where you stop first, not pull over it ready to gun the engine like NASCAR.
If the Internet is wireless, why do we have to have things plugged in?
Note to cell phone manufacturers: you need to make them big again because people can’t be heard with the mouthpiece so far away now. Poor folks have to yell when they’re on the bus or in the grocery store.
So I just saw a video on CNN where the bride sang as she walked down the aisle and there was that cool one with the dance sequence. When is someone going to shove their hand up their groom’s behind and do a ventriloquism act?
The child obesity level is very high now and I’m hoping doctors have changed. Mine said my weight was fine as a pre-teen and that I would grow out of it, which led me to a life as a chubby teen with no girlfriends. But that guy was pushing 300 lbs. and smoked in the exam room. Let’s hope that only happens on Mad Men now.
I think bills should take a month or two off, then we’d appreciate them more.

Hey Bro

Jeff and Kevin-Toddler Cowboys

My brother’s birthday was Saturday the 23rd. This is my favorite photo of us, Kevin’s on the right. I had wanted to post this excerpt on that day but I realized I’ve become a better writer since I’ve started this blog and I wanted to clean it up a bit. I started the blog in the hopes of attracting an audience and then an agent, the purpose being to eventually get this book published. It’s my love letter to my brother and I just hope that the re-write I’m working on results in a tribute to his memory. And something he would have laughed at, because I always used to be able to make him laugh and I miss that tons.  So here it is, the short beginning of the book:

Borrowed From Heaven

I scrubbed as hard as I could to get the stench of powder blue tuxedo out of my skin.   All I got were bruised elbows from the tiny shower and the stain of embarrassment from wearing that suit for the second time in my life.  I didn’t know until a year later how ridiculous I looked at the high school prom but now, as a forty year old, I could totally appreciate the lameness of the outfit.   I had to wear it for my twenty-seventh attempt at doing something to get noticed in Hollywood and my reward was another spec commercial that would never be aired. Mostly because it was just so stupid.

“Cut, cut,” the director had yelled.  “Jed come here.”

“That’s Jeff.”

“It needs to be more magical.  When you make the dove appear, I need it to flap its wings immediately, as if it materialized in flight.  It has to represent the airline’s slogan, ‘We’re ready to fly anytime!’”

“I can’t train the dove.  They’re dumb.  Doves are just pretty pigeons,” I said.  “Underneath they’re the same, disgusting birds that back in Chicago would make you walk around them.

“I didn’t hire a comedian, I hired a magician. Let’s get this shot before it starts to get light out.  Can I get another espresso please?”  The director walked back to his chair but the brain that knew it was smarter than this film school dropout wasn’t finished yet.

“Why aren’t we shooting this during the day, if it’s about flight? You know blue skies and all?” I said.

He turned toward me so that the greased point of his hair looked like it was giving me the finger.  “Because it is supposed to show that even in the dark of night, they take you up into the sky.  Which is represented by your tuxedo.  Now if you’d like to get paid, let’s get the shot.”

They hadn’t told me about the tux or the idea or that the payment was deferred when I called, I had merely answered another ad hoping this would be my big break. After the late night shoot, I just tried to buff the memory away with my towel as I exited the bathroom into my living room slash kitchen slash office and looked into the mirror.  Staring back at me was a man who looked very confused.  Why had I left my family, friends and a career in this bad economy?  Has the economy ever been good?  Why do women in L.A. wear Ugg boots when it’s eighty-eight degrees?  Why are there no medium-sized dogs here?  My brain has restless synapse syndrome.  Maybe that was just to distract it from the real thoughts:  I’m scared, my money was nearly gone and I wasn’t the famous magician I’d dreamt of being since I was ten.

I reached into my dresser and applied deodorant. As I looked at my empty calendar I realized there really wasn’t any reason to smell good, and since not a lot of women past thirty liked going dutch to 7-11, I was going to be alone to fill out a dozen more job applications online. I knew that people had endured really crappy jobs before they realized their dream in Hollywood, I just needed to find one before I joined the homeless bidding war.


“What the-“ I spun around looking for the source of the sound.  When the toaster oven, laptop and cell phone didn’t speak up, I turned back to the mirror.

“Great, now you’re hearing things,” I said as I rubbed my bald head.   “And it’s your brother’s nonsense word that you’re hearing.”  Suddenly my brother’s face appeared in the mirror.


This time when I spun, I lost my balance and hit the dresser, then the wall, and ended up on the floor facing nothing but futon and floor lamp.  My heart was racing, my breathing crazy loud and I thought my mind was about to thumb a ride from the crazy train.

“Hey Bro.”

I slammed my head against the wall as I looked up, and standing there was my brother Kevin.  And oh yeah, he’s dead.