The Ballad of Dock Ellis

I co-produced an all-new radio story with Bob Carlson for the KCRW show UnFictional. Using recovered audio from Donnell Alexander and I’s original interview as well as four new interviews with Jim “Mudcat” Grant, Scipio Spinx, Donald Hall and Donnell Alexander, we put Dock’s life beyond the LSD no-hitter into focus. At 28 minutes, it’s a comittment, but one that Dock is more than worthy of.

Give it a listen: The Ballad of Dock Ellis

Good Thing It’s Cloudy…

… or I would be using the solar eclipse as procrastination from editing a radio story using a bunch of recovered Dock Ellis audio. I haven’t done this in a long time, and I am not sure if that’s the reason for the feelings of dread and fear of total incompetence, or if I always feel that way when editing.

In any case, Nil bu Mouth is back. Prepare yourself. (I’m actually just speaking to me.) As for the bots, carry on then.

Dock Ellis: An LSD No No Gets an Update

The original radio documentary, or DOCKumentary that Donnell Alexander and I produced in the Spring of 2008 got a major update and major major exposure with No Mas’ James Blagden and Christopher Isenberg’s awesome animation.

It made it to, Huff Pos, Yahoo! Sports Gawker and who knows where else. Someone said it was the #2 viral video this week, how ever you count such things.

Check it

What I learned from the 2009 US Open

These are the lessons I learned from this year’s US Open, in no particular order:

I’m not sure who, is it IBM, the USTA, CBS?, but someone has made a concerted effort to de-lesbianize Mary Carillo.

Carillo 07

Carillo Now

WTF? Why so many blonds this year? Was there some Flushing Meadows mandate that those with vaginas must, at the very least, carry a Clairol Frost and Tip kit?

2. Male commentators make the most idiotic proclamations when faced with zany events like motherhood:


“There’s nothing harder than coming back from having a baby,” in relation to Kim Clijsters wild card run to the finals. Really? Are you retarded? How about coming back from being stabbed in the shoulder by a crazed lunatic on the court in the middle of a game? [see Seles, Monica]. How about coming back after your father and coach basically beat you up after losing matches and you had to get a restraining order? [see Pierce, Mary].

Besides the extremes, what about a torn hamstring, a blown rotator cuff, chronic tendinitis in the wrist. A woman’s body is actually supposed to have kids, to reproduce. Hell, men are made for it too. Versus activities, like say, running around trying to hit a fuzzy 2 1/2 inch ball with a round mallet made of strings while 23,000 people watch.

Next up, “I don’t think we’ll ever see this again,” said by some other brain-dead commentator about Clijster’s post-preggers comeback. Huh? I guess with all this fitness and nutrition nonsense, and science and medicine coming up with more and better ways to improve every muscle in the human body, it’s just going to get harder for poor fat mothers disabled for life by the freakish act of pregnancy to play the game of tennis.

And finally, I learned from Serena Williams’ weak and unsportsmanlike meltdown on Saturday that the women’s game really must be played to five sets. Actually, I’ve been pretty obsessed with that for at least a decade, but Serena’s freak out kind of drove it home. With or without the foot fault, the bad call, or the defaulted point, Serena was gonna lose. Kim had outplayed her. So far.

But so far is soooo small in the women’s game. In a men’s match, 6-4 in the first, 2nd set 6-5 would be just getting your opponent on the ropes. The possibilities of finish are still open. I don’t know if the two out of three set standard is from the sexist past, or because the men’s serve and volley points used to be shorter or what. But these days, it’s just not an accurate measure of which player is better.

And what of Serena’s death-by-Wilson-enema threat? Donnell and I have been going back and forth about this all afternoon. Here’s my take: It was really, rilly uncool. Made her look weak, out of control and unprofessional. But let’s step back. Serena didn’t punch the ref in the face. She hasn’t been juicing for 10 years or systematically torturing dogs, et-cetera et-cetera. She got really pissed about a call, at the moment she was about to lose. She’s got too much experience and too many wins to be that outta control. It was tres uncool. Perhaps even loser-ish.

But in my mind, she was about to lose a game with barely enough time to play it. If it were three of five she wouldn’t have pulled that shit (umm… until maybe later). Unsportsmanlike. Not befitting a champion. Uncool. Really uncool. But more than that? Nah.

Youth is Pain

I saw two excellent HBO documentaries this Labor Day weekend, seemingly unrelated. On Sunday, Youth Knows No Pain and then The Last Truck: The Closing of a GM Plant on Monday.

The former is an exploration of the US’s cult of youth by way of Restalyn, Botox, eye lifts and a zillion other quasi-medical treatments to not look one’s age. It’s a pretty brilliant title. First off, all of these treatments are painful, how expensive they are is the least of which. But the result, to look younger, should take some of the pain of life — of being old — away, right? One of the youth-obsessed women quotes Nora Ephron: if I knew what I know now, I would have wore a bikini every day of my 26th year. Ha! Yes, I hear that sister.

The sage quoting Ephron here is Julia Allison who, when she was 26, read that and built a philosophy around it, Botoxing regularly among other age-defying procedures. She’s hot, true as blue. But as we see Julia’s derm stick needles in her face it’s clear that she’s a pathetic hot girl, obsessed with her looks, shallow, self-absorbed and myopic. She can barely look up from herself long enough to faintly disdain her best friend in the doctor’s office.

It’s true, youth is wasted on the young. But of all the things that youth wastes on the young, looks hardly make my top 10. Knowing what I know now I would have worked harder, been more honest with myself, respected myself more, demanded more from my friends, my lovers, demanded more from myself. Maybe I would have worn more bikinis too. No, actually Nora, I wore just the right amount of bikinis.

And then tonight, the doc about the GM plant. It’s winter in Dayton and the workers are red-faced, clad in down and work boots and unflattering jeans. Most of them cry on camera on the final day in the life of their plant. They take group photos with the last car on the line. The women don’t wear make up as they heave tools into their trucks. The men use the word love over and over. Dammit they’re OLD.

Maybe it’s because the subjects are filmed so lovingly here, they all are so fucking beautiful. And not beautiful in some nobility-of-the-proletariat way, though there’s that too. But they’re hot, sexy, vibrant. They work hard and have an emotional connection to their people, their lives. And clearly they have better sex than Julia Allison.

Easy Does It

I remember the first time I heard rap music, I mean really heard it. It must have been ‘88 or ‘89 and I was in a van on the way to way to the Davis Cup tennis tournament in San Diego. My tennis coach Hans, whom I idolized in a way that only a sweaty pre-pubescent girl with a tennis racquet and outsize dreams of Wimbeldon could, had organized a rouge trip of his favorite students to see the matches. By organized I mean rented a van and a room in a cheap motel. We were all privileged white kids, except Hans who was Jamaican and only talked to me about his real life at least seven years later when I was about to graduate from Beverly Hills High School and had been babysitting his son by an estranged baby mama for awhile. It was all very complicated.

In any case, the sheer madness of the venture (rented van, 6 kids in a roadside motel, one adult who never acted like an adult and no rules) was intoxicating. I was the youngest kid on the trip I think, in 6th or 7th grade. One of the high schoolers, a freshman named Rich — I can totally see him now — announced that there was only one thing we could listen to on this drive. He popped in his “Eazy-Duz-It” tape. It was a revelation, but an unholy one. I was just discovering liberalism and feminism and the plight of oppressed peoples. Eazy E was like a punch in the gut to all that. The brazen sexist lyrics, the violence, the ghetto oppression and the hypnotic beats. It was, like, way too much to process. I hated it immediately.

Eazy ERich and I argued for the first hour of the drive and proceeded to loathe one another intensely for the next three days, a nonstop battle including yelling, teenage taunts, slammed doors and a refusal of shared french fries that would test Hans’ patience and every other kids’ loyalty. Everyone took sides (mostly Rich’s). Of course, the only person I remember from that trip was Rich. And Eazy.

I’m thinking of all this now because my fiance is in the midst of a writing a book about The Last Album that Changed the World. If you haven’t guessed it yet, that album is Dr. Dre’s, The Chronic.

While I’m not actually writing the book, his constant talk, the documentaries endlessly playing on our TV, all those books strewn about the house and the CDs slipped into my car stereo has brought me back to those years, 1992 and before.

From the moment of the Davis Cup trip on, as I suspect it was for a lot of white kids coming of age in the time of gansta rap, internal cultural conflict was the name of the game. The best coolest music came from a place so close but so far away. Yet later, when I listened to Nuthin’ but a G Thang in my room, Dre spoke directly to me, no mistaking it. I wore out my copy of “Lethal Injection,” bitch named Amy not withstanding. And I couldn’t possibly love every track of “Regulate… G Funk Era” any more than I still do. Quite simply, it was an odd time to come of age. If you were between 12 and 25 in the early 1990s, there was just no hiding from race in America.

This weekend, I picked up Other People’s Property off our living room table. It’s one of those books living on the coffee table at the moment, so I started reading it. The book chronicles white America’s love of rap music through the personal lens of the author Jason Tanz. Donnell reviewed it for the SF Chronicle a couple years ago. The author is a white lover of hip hop music about my age, and though I’m only at chapter 2 right now, there’s a lot about all those conflicting feelings that I used to have. Conflicting feelings that in the end, I think have made me have a more honest and deep dialogue about race in America with my friends and with myself. Maybe some of that paved the way for an Obama presidency and more forward thinking about race in general in this country. It’s a long leap, but maybe not. A lot has been said about the lyrics of those early songs back in the day (see the PMRC, Bill Clinton and Sistah Souljah). But a lot about what the current crop of 30 somethings, black and white, faced about race in their youth hasn’t. Maybe it’s not much of a leap. Me, I don’t really hate “Eazy-Duz-It” anymore, but it sure makes me fucking uncomfortable.

Just Call it a Comeback!

This Roddick-Federer match is unreal. It makes me think of when you’re first learning the rules of tennis, and you say, “So really the game could just like go on forever!?!” And then the adult who’s explaining this to you says, “Well, it could, but it doesn’t. Somebody gets tired or messes up or something.”

“But, like it could, right?”

“It could, but it doesn’t.”

“And then what if you have to go to the bathroom?”


Well here’s the case where it really could go on forever, at 14-14 in the 5th set!

Eventually, near the end of the writing of this post, Roddick mis-hit a hard Federer return, popping the ball far out into the sky (and far out of the court), and Federer did indeed win. It seemed bittersweet, even for Federer, who is now at a record 15 grand slams. Winning isn’t always 100% unbridled awesomeness, said Roger’s (re-)strained post-game interview. Through after he goes home and stops starting at Roddick’s glum face, it might get better…

Which is only to say, that after a five (FIVE!) year hiatus, this blog is back!

The slow descent into alcoholism

is this thing on?


Alert: All blogs below this line are from 2004!

For A Long Time I Used To Write A Blog

It’s official. The blog/journal/etc is going on sabbatical. Possibly, likely, it will turn into early retirement. I just haven’t had it in me to do much here anymore. It’s easy to to blame it on the recently acquired fulltime writing gig, but really I haven’t been that involved in it for awhile now.

I’m keeping the archives up. And the whole thing will stay in tact since I don’t have the heart to redesign it as a closed book or whatever. It’s, like, embalmed. For her pleasure.

Meanwhile, the new home page. Meanwhile I’ll be writing here. Meanwhile I’ll be accepting freelance writing and web work. Meanwhile the nyc summer marches on. Meanwhile I’ll be cleaning my kitchen.