Some Kind of Wonderful

mother teresa

Model T.

It’s amazing how fucked-up shit always brings out the best in people.

Unless you’re a serial killer or Mitt Romney, it’s human nature to be compassionate when something bad happens to others, and it doesn’t much matter if that badness befalls people you know and love or a bunch of total strangers. Our hearts (and when I say “our” I mean “non-Republicans”) instinctively go out to the less fortunate. And even though it semi-pains me to say this, here’s the bottom line: there but for the grace of what’s-his-face, go I.

Over these past few days, I’ve heard so many inspiring Hurricane Sandy stories about people opening up their homes to those who lost power or suffered even worse misfortune (my friend Ralph’s cousin had an aunt who drowned in her apartment in Howard Beach), and these acts of generosity are so heartfelt and selfless that it has restored my faith in humanity. In other words, people don’t suck nearly as much as I had always thought they did.

And that includes me. I texted my ex-wife the other night and told her that she was welcome to crash in Brooklyn while she waited for power to be restored in Long Island. She passed but thanked me just the same. And that got me thinking about how I’d like to be friends with her again for all of the reasons that made us friends in the first place, to say nothing of how we loved each other and really never stopped. And it took nothing less than a goddamn hurricane to make me realize this.

Which leads me to the following question: why can’t we be caring, altruistic, loving human beings every day? I know a lot of us walk around thinking that we are (and you don’t have to Facebook me about it, I know that you’re all some kind of wonderful), but why do we need disaster to strike before we open up our hearts?

You know the answer as well as I do – we’re only human and, like it or not, life gets in the way. But what if compassion became a way of life? What if we all became Mother fucking Teresas?

This all comes as something of a revelation to me. I’m one of those people who walked around thinking that I was caring, altruistic and loving, although admittedly haven’t always shown it. It’s been there on the inside and that’s where it has pretty much stayed.

But I have to tell you, it feels damn good when that shit comes out.

One Good Thing About a Hurricane

hurricane sandy

Sandy, the aurora is rising behind us.

One good thing about a hurricane is that it forces you to connect with the people you love.

My sons, who are up in Binghamton and down in Tampa, both texted me the other night to see “what was what” (which is the way guys tell each other we’re concerned) in Brooklyn. I also texted with my ex-wife, who lost power in Long Island, and we joked about all of the times we were snowbound together and ended up telling each other to stay safe. I did the same with my last girlfriend, who lives in Queens, and was entertaining her small children while the lights flickered on and off.

I emailed and texted the woman I’m currently dating to see how she and her teenage daughter were faring on the Upper West Side, and checked in with my friends Tony and John, who both live downtown and lost power sometime Monday night. My old pal Steve in Boca Raton emailed to make sure that I wasn’t drowning in the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel — and I even heard from someone I was briefly involved with a few years ago, who was also sleep- and powerless in Manhattan and just wanted to say a quick hi in the dark.

My sister Patti, who lives in Scottsdale, texted to see how Sandy was treating me. And even though we were just in a big fight and weren’t speaking with each other, we were able to put that shit aside. Worrying always becomes the first priority.

When bad things happen, we instinctively need to hear from those closest to us –especially if they’re not physically near — so we know that everything will be all right. And maybe I need it more than most. Maybe I’m just a big mama’s boy (read: pussy) whose mom has been dead for more than 30 years, but the reassurance of connecting with a loved one during the bad craziness going on right outside my window makes me feel warm and safe inside. And I’m not just talking about my apartment.

Obviously, texting, emailing, and social media bring us together so much easier and faster, which led me to post the following question on Facebook yesterday:

How did we all ride out a storm before Facebook and Twitter?

An old friend answered “Drugs!” but the real answer is that we didn’t have so many choices back in the dark days before the Interwebs and simply picked up our phones. Don’t get me wrong: It was great to hear from family and friends, but I dearly missed the sound of their voices. All of our back and forth was online or texting, and I’m pretty OK with it because that’s the way we all live in the world these days. But part of me really isn’t so OK at all.

Which is why I called my sister yesterday.

“Hi,” I said. “I just wanted to hear your voice.”

“I’m so glad you called. I really am,” Patti said. “I wanted to call you on Monday, but didn’t know how you’d feel so I texted instead.”

“I know. That’s why I called you,” I said. “I just wanted to tell you that I love you.”

“I love you, too,” she said.

And that was the one good thing.

Beginnings and Endings


You say “goodbye” and I say “hell no.”

I’ve always been good at writing beginnings and endings because nobody really cares much about the middle. I slave over the first sentence (called “the lede”) and the last (“the kicker”) of a story until they sound completely tossed off the top of my head while, at the same time, knocking you on your ass.

The way I deal with beginnings and endings in real life is a different story. The beginning of most anything ­­– going to a new school, starting a new job, beginning a new relationship, even becoming a new dad – always filled me with anxiety. I guess it makes sense as you really don’t know what you’re doing or exactly how and where you fit in. You’re stumbling around in the dark until one day when you see the light and officially enter the middle – the part, in real life, that everybody cares about the most.

Beginnings can also be great fun, especially in the relationship department. There are few things better in life than when you first feel that magical spark that connects you with someone special. Anxiety quiets down and stumbling straightens out and all you’re left with is an incredible feeling of light. And that alone makes beginnings about a million times better than those dreaded ends.

Other than in the movies, endings kinda suck. And I’m not just talking about death. Endings are painful because they make you face certain truths about yourself – the kind of truths that can rock you to your core – and there’s really no way to run away from them. Although, God knows, I’ve tried. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ducked out of someone’s going-away party at work because I couldn’t tolerate the feeling of saying goodbye. Maybe it’s just a classic abandonment issue or maybe it’s that I don’t like to feel the pain of losing someone. And that goes double (times a million) for saying goodbye to someone I’ve loved.

When my mom was dying of cancer, I tried my best to run away and escaped into the loving arms of the woman who would become my wife, hoping that I could somehow dodge the pain bullet. And even though I didn’t cry at my mom’s funeral, the heartbreak eventually barged in and knocked me on my ass.

And speaking of heartbreak and crying, I’ve called it quits with three women in my life who’ve I’ve loved and it was like facing my own death each and every time. There was no dodging of bullets. On the contrary, they ripped through my heart until it felt like it was no longer there.

But that’s not to say that all endings are final. After some time, an interesting thing happens when you get back to the middle of your life. The part that you thought was dead and gone – all of the reasons why you loved someone in the first place – miraculously heals and comes back to life and when you think of that person, it no longer feels sad and painful.

In fact, that part lives on in your heart until the day you die.

The Hunger Game Too

ippudo pork buns

Sublimely ridiculous.

Eating has always been a deeply spiritual experience for me. Which is the fake-profound way of saying that I’ve always been a fat fucking pig.

I’ve seen God in a slice of Ray’s Pizza (the Original on W. 11th Street, and okay, okay, I was high at the time, but still), in a still-hot Everything bagel from H&H at dawn, in the sublime pork buns at Ippudo (it’s in the East Village and you’ll have to wait at least an hour for a table and it’s so worth it), in the middle of the night at Wo-Hop in Chinatown (order the spare ribs and Chicken Kew) and innumerable other times. If Jesus really wanted to save my ass, all he’d have to do is hand me a Nathan’s hot dog with mustard.

For a lot of us, food is right up there with sex as life’s most sublime pleasure (and if you’ve never combined the two, you’re really missing out). A wonderful bite can truly be transformative. If you close your eyes, the real world fades away and you’re lost inside of a dream, and yes, I’m talking about food here, so get your mind out of the gutter for a minute. The better something tastes, the better it makes you feel. It warms your heart and feeds your soul and nourishes things inside of you that you didn’t even know needed sustenance, and if that’s not a type of religion, I don’t know what is.

And just like happiness, food is best savored when shared. I used to make the Ray’s run with my old pal Steve, had that Everything bagel with my ex-wife before we were married, go to Ippudo religiously with my best friend Tony and would visit Wo-Hop (and sometimes Nathan’s) in the middle of the night with my brother Mike. And I’m positive that none of it would’ve tasted nearly as transcendent if these people who I love weren’t there stuffing their faces alongside of me.

Of course, love is what this whole thing is about (and if you haven’t caught on by now, the subject of almost every other post on this blog). God is love (or so I’ve heard) and food is love and speaking of the L word, you can pretty much tell everything you need to know about somebody just by the way they eat.

Zach and I were out to dinner one night and he was telling me how he hates eating with the girls at school because all they do is play Tetris with the food on their plate and hardly ever take a single bite.

“Dude, are you fucking kidding me? It’s all about appetite!” I said, so quick to dispense this important fatherly advice. “If a woman digs in and truly loves to eat … do I really need to draw you a picture?”

“I never really thought about it that way,” said the dumbass.

“But all bets are off,” I said, “if she’s eating vegetables.”

Big Sighs

penelope cruz

More bruisin than Cruz-in.

As you get older, you’re forced to face some of the realities of life.

Mainly, death.

But there are others, too. For example:

I will never sleep with Penélope Cruz.

Javier Bardem’s wife never returns any of my texts and my calls go straight to voicemail. I’ve joked about this before, but when I really think about it, it saddens me in such a profound way that can only be mollified by a few minutes on Netflix or YouPorn.

I will never be famous.

I’m not exactly sure why I wanted to be famous, but I know it had to do with that whole wanting to be adored thing, or the potentially sleeping with Penélope Cruz thing (I mean, look at her!) and, of course, my mom. When I was a kid, I used to watch the Academy Awards with her and she’d get all excited when they presented the Oscar for best screenwriter because the winner would invariably thank their folks. “That’ll be you up there one day,” she’d say while blowing Marlboro smoke in my face. “Don’t forget to thank me!” Believe it or not, I always thought that it would be me up there one day. But since it won’t, here’s the end of my fantasy acceptance speech: “And finally, I’d like to thank my mom who loved me in a way that I’m still trying to figure out.”

I will never be too rich or thin.

I’ve never had a lot of money. I grew up unreasonably poor and have done way better than my parents did as an adult, but we were never swimming in cash, although we did, for a time, have a pool. Aboveground. But still. The truth is that if I ever had a lot of money, I’d only have half of it now. And I love bread and butter way too much to ever fit into my skinny jeans.

I will never believe in God.

I’ve tried. God, I’ve tried. And I’m still trying. If only He gave me a sign … GODDAMNIT! My chest! It feels … vise around … heart. ARGHH! Okay! Okay! I give! I give! Jeez! You are such a fucking showoff!

I will never be happy.

I’ve been wrestling with this one for so long that I’m not even sure what it means anymore. I’ve certainly known happiness in my life, and hope to Hell I can squeeze in a little more of it before the inescapable realities really start to bite. But I don’t think I’ve ever been an especially happy person and that’s with and without meds. Which is not to say that I’m not a lot of fun to be around. Or don’t know how to have a good time. It’s just who I am and who I’ve always been and likely, who I’ll always be. Unless I sleep with … oh, nevermind.

I will never find the woman of my dreams.

The Stupid Game of Life


Where the hell is Millionaire’s Mansion?

My last girlfriend believed that if you really wanted something in life, all you had to do was ask the universe for it. I’m not talking about fantasies of winning the Powerball jackpot or having a three-way with Penélope Cruz (um, wait, that one was mine) but rather, asking for things that were somehow attainable. She’s one of the most diligent people I’ve ever known and has certainly reaped the benefits of her hard work. She just believes in her heart that it also doesn’t hurt to get a little help from the great beyond. “If you put it out there,” she’d say, double-bubbling with optimism, “it will come back to you.”

Now whenever I’ve tried to put it out there, the universe generally stomped on it with its stiletto heels (I see Eddie Izzard as the universe) and it hurt like a motherfucker. Maybe that was because I’m one of those people who believe that everything happens for a reason, and that reason is — everything is totally random.

A year or so after we met, either because of the cosmos or randomly, we broke up. We’re still friends and were talking recently about her theory of asking the universe for relative shit, or as I like to call it “playing the stupid game of life.”

She made a few interesting observations. We were chatting about my father-in-law, Marty, who I wrote about the other day, and she asserted that maybe he was the father who I always wanted (because God knows, I certainly didn’t want my own), and here was the universe giving me something that I desperately needed without me even asking for it (except for that one niggling detail of Marty now being dead – thanks for nothing, idiot universe!)

Not only was she right, but the truth is that I had always asked for it, maybe not out loud, but certainly in my thoughts and whatever passed for bedtime prayers, ever since my father went to prison when I was four years old. Twenty-five years later when I married, Marty came into my life and filled the hole in my heart.

I had always wanted to be a writer, she further affirmed, and had put it out there ever since I was in kindergarten and it has unmistakably come back to me. And it’s not at all random because it’s the only thing I ever wanted to do with my life and the universe listened and that’s why you’re reading this now instead of me yanking out your appendix or embezzling your 401k.

“You also always wanted a hot writer girlfriend. And the universe came through for you again. Big time!” she finally reminded me. “If you think about it, the universe has really given you everything you’ve ever asked for.”

She was right.

Why I Write This Crap

bill murray

In the story of my life.

I went out for beers the other night with an old writer/editor friend (who, incidentally, has always had impeccable taste) and he complimented me on my blog, noting its ostensible honesty, sheer volume and relative craftsmanship. He said that he wished he could do the same.

“How do you do it, Lar?” he asked, after a third Corona.

I was tempted to answer with the famous quote widely attributed to legendary sportswriter Red Smith: “Writing is easy. You just open a vein and bleed.”

But instead I said, “I dunno. I’ve just been doing it ever since I was a little boy.”

I wrote my first poem when I was in kindergarten:

The birds fly

High in the sky

Why can’t I?

Fucking genius, right?

Of course, almost every kid in kindergarten wrote this stupid poem but when I did it, my mom had me believing that I would be the next e.e. Cummings.

And thus began my illustrious career as a writer.

The truth is (I know I say that a lot; maybe more for me to believe it than for you), everything I’ve written since then has been nothing more than a desperate plea for my mother’s love. Thanks for nothing, Ma!

It didn’t make a difference if it was slightly-retarded-sounding poems in elementary school or short Raymond Carver-esque stories in college, or personal essays in major magazines or getting lost down the Twitter rabbit hole or even this blog, writing has always been my point of distinction from everybody else, and more importantly, a way to feed an insatiable and unabashedly naked desire to be adored (so make sure to Like this on Facebook and starfuck it on Twitter).

Why I need your approval is obvious: It’s because I’ve always had trouble approving of myself. I’m never happy with anything I’ve written (and edit the shit out of it because I’m perpetually dissatisfied and simply can’t let go) until someone tells me that it’s good and I should be pleased. And even then I assume the person is merely being kind.

Although I’m actively trying to change all that. I’ve written a few things here that I’m actually proud of and that admission alone is progress. On the flip side, my friend Charlie keeps prodding me to stop playing around on this nowhere road and instead focus on the more serious business of writing a memoir. I keep arguing that this blog is serious business (despite my silly jokes), and that I don’t think my life has been nearly interesting enough to warrant its own story.

But if it is, I still see Bill Murray in the title role.

Nature Calls

prospect park

A day in the park.

I’m sitting on a bench in Prospect Park on one of those killer fall days that we never seem to get enough of and thought this would be as good a time as any to say a few words about the spiritual nature of nature.

But first I’m just going to close my eyes. And listen. It’s so peaceful today, which is really saying a lot because this is, after all, Brooklyn. There’s almost a sense of holiness here and I feel like I’m connected to everything that’s going on around me.

OMG! The hottest black chick wearing yellow compression shorts just jogged by!

Did I mention the sky? It’s that perfect cerulean blue etched with billowy clouds right out of a Maxfield Parrish illustration and the trees swaying in the breeze look as if they’re breathing and it’s almost impossible not to believe that there’s a higher power at work here, one who created …

Holy shit! A MILF just strolled by with her little boy and I swear to God, she was wearing stiletto heels!

And the colors! Let’s talk about the colors. I’ve never liked the word “foliage” as it always struck me as a bullshit way of saying “leaves” but to be honest, neither word does today’s scene justice. The autumn leaves look like they’ve been meticulously colored in with the fancy Crayola crayons from the 64-pack (I’m talking to you, Burnt Sienna and Raw Umber) and those yellowish green, twirly maple seed things shaped like a dragonfly’s wings (we used to call them “helicopters” and put them on our nose), are swirling in the wind and the beauty of it all is so overwhelming that …

Jeez! That young Asian woman in the black hipster glasses is definitely checking me out!

Look! There goes a squirrel skittering up a tree and two little kids are rolling down a hill in the long meadow while an elderly couple walk hand in hand, and no one seems to be noticing the amazing world around them but everyone looks so happy and I guess that’s what nature is really all about, in all of its exquisite diversity, and everywhere you look, you can see God’s fingerprints and …

Oh my lord! That skinny blonde walking her miniature bulldog has legs that just go on forever.

I am extremely moved by nature.

Words to Live By

st. augustine


Looking for inspirational and motivational quotes to help you face life’s challenges?

As a matter of fact, I am!

Actually, this is just another lame excuse for me to make fun of all of the gobbledygook found on Beliefnet (and so much for ever blogging for those guys).

Continuing on:

These famous quotes will uplift your spirit and inspire you to follow your dreams.

OMG! I think I may have just heard an angel sing! Let’s take a look at their top 5, shall we?

1) The mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work unless it’s open. – Unknown

Are you fucking kidding me? This is the Number One quote?! It sounds like one of my old tweets … that I immediately deleted. Of course it’s by “Unknown.” I wouldn’t put my name on it either. And yeah, maybe this quote is “famous” … in a special circle of Henny Youngman Hell. Take my open mind — please.

2) Patience is the companion of wisdom. – Saint Augustine

Note to self: Immediately unfollow @SaintAugustine. This is the kind of vague drivel that you sometimes find in fortune cookies and it makes you angry when you read it because you just had fried dumplings and scallion pancakes and General Tso’s chicken and it was so delicious, and then they ruin the whole meal by giving you this stale crap that leaves such a bad taste in your mouth. And anyway, we all know that patience is a virtue, Saint Dipshit!

3) If man is man and God is God, to live without prayer is not merely an awful thing: it is an infinitely foolish thing. – Phillips Brooks

Who the hell is Philip Brooks and why is he making me feel like such a goddamn idiot? I’ve been doing just fine living without prayer, and if I ever change my mind, I’ll call up Bon Jovi. So what Albert’s brother is basically saying here is that we non-believers are a bunch of retards for eternity. You know what, Phil? If man is man and God is God, you’re a stupid asshole!

4) Anyone who is indifferent to the well being of other people and to the causes of their future happiness, can only be laying the ground for their own misfortune. – Dalai Lama

Now I’ve always liked the Dalai Lama – all 14 incarnations of him. And I’m not sure which one of his holiness’s uttered this particular axiom, although I’ve always heard rumors that most of his material was written by the South Park guys. On further reflection, it actually sounds a little too Mother Teresa-ish to me, which ironically lays the ground for a fortune … to be made in a copyright lawsuit that will help the poor and sick. Win-win. I take it back. This really is uplifting.

5) My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness. ­– Dalai Lama

Not sure how the DL got two quotes in the top five, but I suspect Richard Gere had something to do with it (Jesus H. Christ! What a cheap ass joke!) In all fairness, I really do feel that these are words to live by and they’ve inspired me to follow my dream – creating a new site called Disbeliefnet.

I Dream of Jann


Like a complete known.

Jann Wenner haunts my dreams. Or at least inhabits them on a regular basis. Some have been quite pleasant like the one where I was sitting in his office and we both took off our shoes and put our feet up on his giant desk, laughing about who knows what. There have also been others where he’s yelling at me, and all I can remember the next morning is the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that I somehow let him down.

These dreams are always so vivid, like watching a movie of myself from a past life, and when I wake up from them, it takes a few seconds to reorient. I worked at Rolling Stone for more than a decade and left the magazine about five years ago, but not a month has gone by where I haven’t dreamt about Jann.

In my golden slumbers, I was sitting next to him in the back of the cab in Almost Famous. We’ve traded guitar licks at the Fillmore and have gotten high together backstage any number of times. He yells at me in about one out of every four dreams, which is far less than he ever did in real life when I worked for him. There’s a recurring one where I’m in his townhouse on the Upper West Side at a party and “Like a Rolling Stone” is playing in the background and he sings, “Larry, how does it feel? How does it feel?”

Some people believe that dreams are a message from God (insert Bono joke here) and I think you know me well enough by now to know that I’m not one of those crazy people, but this is still pretty fucked up, right? I told my friend Doug, who worked alongside me at RS, about my Jann dreams and he admitted to having them too!

“We wanted to please him so much,” Doug said. “It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that he was a father figure for us.”

Totally true. I had that whole love/fear/father/son-thing from A Bronx Tale going on with Jann and would do almost anything for him. I wanted and needed his approval, probably because I despised my own father, who was in and out of prison for most of his life.

And now that I think of it, I’ve never had a single dream about my dad.

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