Whole Foods didn’t have the mezcal I like


You can call that the ultimate #firstworldproblem.  But I bet not being able to find your favorite alcohol is a relatable problem in every nation on Earth, among every race* and at every level of wealth and poverty.

* how many races are there?  is this a useful way to categorize people?  was it ever?  (was thinking the other day about “Asian/Pacific Islander.”  Are a Tongan and a Han Chinese in Beijing any more related than a white guy from Dublin and a black man from Senegal? )


Saigon Central

Nick’s photo of Saigon Central Post Office

My high school bud Nick has a blog, similar minimalist layout style to this one and the OG master Bookbinderlocal455.

A lot of posts are his photos from Asia.

But there are also several posts about investing that I found so interesting I read them several times and sent them to others.  Here’s a few samples.

From this post, “The Brooklyn Investor: The Greatest Investment Book Ever Written“:

“Any time you extend your bankroll so far that if you lost, it would really distress you, you probably will lose.  It’s tough to play your best under that much pressure.”

This is exactly what Joel Greenblatt said in an essay soon after the financial crisis.  He was talking about how many people thought the error in their investment was that they didn’t foresee the crisis and so didn’t sell stocks before the collapse.  Greenblatt insisted that this couldn’t be done anyway and that the real error was that these people simply owned too much stocks.  If you own so much stock that a 50% decline is going to scare you and make you sell out at precisely the wrong moment (and as Greenblatt says, and Brunson says in this book, you are almost guaranteed to sell out at the bottom), then you owned too much stock to begin with.  Greenblatt said the mistake wasn’t that they didn’t sell before the crisis, but that they sold in panic at the bottom.  This was the error. So the key defense against inevitable (and unpredictable) bear markets is to not extend yourself so much that it will distress you when the markets do fall (and they will).  Buffett says that if it would upset you if a stock you bought declined by 50%, then you simply shouldn’t be investing in stocks.  As I like to say all the time, more money is probably lost every year in trying to avoid losing money in the stock market than actual losses in the stock market! via The Brooklyn Investor: The Greatest Investment Book Ever Written.

Profoundly interesting quote.  Sub out the word “your bankroll” for, say, “yourself” and does it apply to other situations, like championship tennis?

Thought “What are questions?” was also a great post, on the great Clay Christensen

So was “Everybody Gets What They Want,” a cold-eyed suggestion about whether people are subconsciously manifesting / The Secret-ing themselves:

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Check it out.  Nick also found some good old photos of Boston:

Kid Lost and then found

Kid lost, and then found from Crime/Police: Miscellaneous

Also, you can enjoy this:

The Tain


Had a couple spare minutes last night while I was waiting for some wood glue to set so I took down my copy of the Tain.

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That’s pretty cool.  How about this?

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Things go south for her:

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There’s definitely some cuts I might suggest.  Do we need this?:

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But there’s also some great detail:

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“Two thirds more.”  That precision and detail!  Can’t help but think the Tain guys are having a little fun with us.

Live Great Debates Tonight

UCB Guys!  Really excited about tonight’s Great Debates Live at the UCB on Sunset.  If you’re in LA hope you’re considering coming, last I checked there were 14 tickets left.  The UCB’s doing us a huge solid by letting us perform there, would be great to sell it out. We’ve got some great fun planned, special guests.  Little Esther is gonna warm up the crowd: Little Esther

You can buy a ticket for five bucks right here:


But before we can all have fun together, I do have to just dispense with an unpleasant sort of cloud that’s hanging over this event. The rumor that so-called “Debater X” is planning some kind of mischief for tonight’s live Great Debates event is just that — a rumor.  This is a guy who won’t even reveal his face, let alone his name, so how he acquired any credibility at all is beyond me.  The best theory I heard — by best I mean most amusing in its ridiculous — is that Debater X is a famous athlete.  HIGHLY doubt it.  Just doesn’t fit the psychology here.

Debater X

Please. The lamest thing about Anonymous is that they saw this and were like “COOL LOOK!”

What “Debater X” is is something much simpler.  He’s a troll.  Trolls are all too common in the anonymous world of the Internet, where you can hide behind your avatar and fire darts from the safety of a desk covered in crinkled Chipotle wrappers. So, do not worry about Debater X, just grab a ticket, come on out, show’s at 8:30pm, enjoy yourself!

There are no coincidences.

Lifting this wholesale from Tyler Cowen:

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E. L. Doctorow


You once told me that the most difficult thing for a writer to write was a simple household note to someone coming to collect the laundry, or instructions to a cook.


What I was thinking of was a note I had to write to the teacher when one of my children missed a day of school. It was my daughter, Caroline, who was then in the second or third grade. I was having my breakfast one morning when she appeared with her lunch box, her rain slicker, and everything, and she said, “I need an absence note for the teacher and the bus is coming in a few minutes.” She gave me a pad and a pencil; even as a child she was very thoughtful. So I wrote down the date and I started, Dear Mrs. So-and-so, my daughter Caroline . . . and then I thought, No, that’s not right, obviously it’s my daughter Caroline. I tore that sheet off, and started again. Yesterday, my child . . . No, that wasn’t right either. Too much like a deposition. This went on until I heard a horn blowing outside. The child was in a state of panic. There was a pile of crumpled pages on the floor, and my wife was saying, “I can’t believe this. I can’t believe this.” She took the pad and pencil and dashed something off. I had been trying to write the perfect absence note. It was a very illuminating experience. Writing is immensely difficult. The short forms especially.

from here of course.

The only Doctorow I read is this one, which is great:

Billy Bathgate

I also read the beginning of this one:


Billy Bathgate has a lot of sexy stuff in it that I really appreciated at the time (16?).  Both books start with one guy violently taking the woman of another guy as the other guy is more or less forced to watch.  It’s pretty primal and intense shit.  Welcome To Hard Times was even a little too much for me.


Well, it can be anything. It can be a voice, an image; it can be a deep moment of personal desperation. For instance, with Ragtime I was so desperate to write something, I was facing the wall of my study in my house in New Rochelle and so I started to write about the wall. That’s the kind of day we sometimes have, as writers. Then I wrote about the house that was attached to the wall. It was built in 1906, you see, so I thought about the era and what Broadview Avenue looked like then: trolley cars ran along the avenue down at the bottom of the hill; people wore white clothes in the summer to stay cool. Teddy Roosevelt was President. One thing led to another and that’s the way that book began: through desperation to those few images. With Loon Lake, in contrast, it was just a very strong sense of place, a heightened emotion when I found myself in the Adirondacks after many, many years of being away . . . and all this came to a point when I saw a sign, a road sign: Loon Lake. So it can be anything.

How about:


For describing J. P. Morgan, for an example, did you spend a great deal of time in libraries?


The main research for Morgan was looking at the great photograph of him by Edward Steichen.

Google Image Search “Morgan by Edward Steichen”:

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Good one from cuz

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Yes to this attitude!

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4,835 words on Ta-Nahesi Coates and Gawker controversy and Donald Trump

Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 7.49.32 PM; ) just kidding!  Instead here:

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“My mother told a funny story,” says Caroline Kennedy, who is now the US ambassador to Japan, but was once – a little over 50 years ago – a toddler growing up in the White House.

“She was sitting next to Khrushchev at a state dinner in Vienna. She ran out of things to talk about, so she asked about the dog, Strelka, that the Russians had shot into space. During the conversation, my mother asked about Strelka’s puppies.

“A few months later, a puppy arrived and my father had no idea where the dog came from and couldn’t believe my mother had done that.”

The puppy was Strelka’s daughter, Pushinka, listed on her official registration certificate as a “non-breed” or mongrel.

“Pushinka was cute and fluffy,” says Ambassador Kennedy – in fact the Russian name translates as Fluffy.



From the Traphes L. Bryant oral history over there at the JFK Library:

Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 7.55.16 PMAnd:

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Charlie and Pushinka:

Charlie and Pushinka

The Relationship That Dares Not Speak Its Name


The relationship that is so important and yet perhaps the hardest to express and discuss is FRIENDSHIP.

You love your friends.  You love them so much.  How to tell them?  Can you?  Should you?  Is it acceptable?  Are there rituals for it?  Can other people ever understand it?

United States' Megan Rapinoe, right, celebrates with teammate Alex Morgan as Tobin Heath slides in on her knees after scoring against Canada during their semifinal women's soccer match at the 2012 London Summer Olympics, Monday, Aug. 6, 2012, at Old Trafford Stadium in Manchester, England. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

Is the expression of this part of what we love in sports?

Maybe the difficulty of expressing this relationship is why it makes for such powerful art.

What is the power of this gif from Broad City?


It is that Ilana is having almost orgasmic feelings, not from sex but from friendship-love for Abby*.

I haven’t seen all of Broad City, but I bet there’s a lot more of this emotion than there is of sex-having joy, or man-woman emotion.

I remember in high school my English teacher calling our attention to an essay called “Come Back To The Raft Ag’in Huck Honey” by Leslie Fielder.  It’s not easily avail online but by the first sentence it’s talking about homosexual tension between Huck and Jim, who remember spend the whole book on a raft together, close as can be:

Fiedler’s first critical work appeared in 1948 and came about from his habit of reading American novels to his sons. The essay appeared in Partisan Review (enabled by Fiedler’s recent acquaintance with Delmore Schwartz) and was the subject of a great amount of critical debate and controversy. “Come Back to the Raft Ag’in, Huck Honey!” argued a recurrent theme in American literature was an unspoken or implied homoerotic relationship between men, famously using Huckleberry Finn and Jim as examples. Pairs of men flee for wilderness rather than remain in the civilizing and domesticated world of women. Fiedler also deals with this male bonding in Love and Death in the American Novel (1960), Waiting for the End (1964) and The Return of the Vanishing American (1968).

As Winchell wrote in his book on Fiedler, “Reading ‘Come Back to the Raft’ over half a century later, one tends to forget that, prior to Fiedler, few critics had discussed classic American literature in terms of race, gender, and sexuality” (Winchell 53). Fiedler emphasized the fact the males paired in these wilderness adventures tend to be of different races as well, which created an additional critical dimension. “Come Back to the Raft” not only caused a stream of letters of protest to be sent to Partisan Review, but it also was attacked by the critical community. For instance, Queer theoristChristopher Looby argues that Fiedler’s claims were noticeably given from a 20th Century urban perspective and did not adequately address the time period in which Huckleberry Finn was written (i.e. the debate on the sexuality of Abraham Lincoln).

Well, call me a square, but I don’t think Huck Finn is really about queer theory.  I think it’s about men bonded together in friendship.   No sex, just men intensely and closely together.

Hemingway as us. puts it succinctly:


I think intense, almost inexpressible friendship is a theme that runs through American literature, and probably world lit.

Many, many times in the history of America, men were bonded to each other in intense ways.  And women were bonded to each other in intense ways.   That’s how they got through life.

Forget history: think of your own life.

There is little language or ritual for this relationship.  The big ritual is marriage: man and woman (and now man/man, woman/woman etc. but it’s not the same thing).

wedding party

In a way, at a wedding you’re saying goodbye to your friend relationships.

The two most popular TV shows of my youth, Friends and Seinfeld, were about friends who are bonded to each other.


The romantic relationships they form are disposable by comparison.


What’s going on in Moby-Dick, really?  What’s the most important relationship in this book with almost no women?

You could say it’s the friendship between Ishmael and Queequeg?

How about Gatsby?  The whole summer over which Gatsby occurs, Nick is dating some chick named Jordan who he in the end discards as unworthy.  What relationship from that summer was important to Nick?  His friendship with another dude.  How about this moment when Gatsby lives up to Nick’s dream of him?:


I wanted to get up and slap him on the back.  I had one of those renewals of complete faith in him that I’d experienced before. 

Gatsby is like a love letter from Nick to his great, doomed friend.

Why was True Detective good last year and not good** this year?  Tons of reasons (if you agree with the premise).

But last year it was about partners.  Male partners.

Not sex partners — geez, it’s not all sex.  Men can love each other without fucking.  True Detective 1 is about guys who had to be loyal to each other.  In the beginning, and also the “end,” in fact, they hate each other.  But in the true end?  They are there for each other.  They love each other so much it breaks your heart.  Isn’t the last shot or whatever Harrelson carrying McConaughey?


(Yeah I’m no dunce, I know that’s also meant to be Jesus or whatever too — for that matter, what are the Gospels about if not friendship and love among bros?)

What is Entourage about?

entourage buds

I started watching Ballers this year.  Ballers = Entourage but about sports, right?  I’m sure that’s how they pitched it.

ballers no buds

But Ballers sucks** so bad it makes you revisit and consider what made Entourage tick.

What was Entourage about?  Friends.  Male friendship.  It’s so awkward to talk about that the only way the Entourage dudes could express it was in talking about fuckin’ chicks, or making fun of how gay Lloyd is.  There are (at least in the movie) zero emotional moments between men and women in Entourage.  The emotion is men, trying so hard to express something that their culture/life whatever gives them no language for: the non-sexual love between men.

Ballers sucks because The Rock has no real friends in it.  Who is his friend, Corddry?

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In Ballers, there’s no loyalty to a friend that he puts above everything else in his life.

Consider The Bridges At Toko-Ri, by James Michener.  (I’m stealing this point from some military guy in an interview. I can’t remember who.  When I find it I’ll post, this bit about Bridges at Toko-Ri is more or less a summary of what some guy said in something I read years ago:)

In this movie/book, William Holden has a great life, post-war.  But he’s called back to war to help out his shipmate.  His wife, Grace Kelly, can’t understand this relationship.  Who cares?  Stay with your great life and wife and kids!  She doesn’t understand “shipmates.”  But William Holden knows it’s the most important relationship in his life.

In the end, he dies in a ditch with his friend Mickey Rooney.  This was his fate, to die with his friend.  Tragic, maybe, but noble.

How about this?


What you read about in books about war is men bonded to each other so deeply, so intensely, beyond anything they’ve ever felt before.

soldiers hugging

famous one from the Korean War by Al Chang, whose career seems worth investigating at some later date.

… and then it’s gone.  It can never come back.

If you survive you get on with the regular relationships of life, always missing the closeness you once had.

What is Broad City about?


Friendship.  A time in your life that will not last forever when your most important relationship, a relationship transcending all other bullshit, a relationship felt so deeply you almost can’t take it, is friendship.

My point is just: friendship is such a big deal in life.  But we hardly even have language to talk about it.  So exploring it can make powerful art/comedy/drama.

* I think, not 100% sure on the context here, as always write me if I’m wrong as I so often am.

** so far — I’m a believer and rooter-for. 

Cleanin’ out my DVR

IMG_8876One of the local public broadcasting stations here in SoCal aired an episode of the Berenstain Bears in Lakota.

The Lakota language represents one of the largest Native American language speech communities in the United States, with approximately 6,000 speakers living mostly in northern plains states of North Dakota and South Dakota.


I gotta say, I’m enjoying the women’s World Cup, and I am for the US women.  I like Tobin Heath

Tobin Heath

And Kelley OHara


And Sydney Leroux


I like this:

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And I like that Alex Morgan wrote a bestselling book for middle schoolers:


This is the only one star review:

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Do agree with Ken that this is troubling:

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