Thirtyist: 10. Aspiring Sportswriters Wanted, pt. I


The choices and circumstance that dictate our life’s course are often so subtle that, taken individually, they amount to nothing more than a cursory raise of the eyebrow. As you’ve probably noted from this series, much of what we do intertwines with much of what else we do – often without our control or even knowledge. It’s that what else that’s important, because it is often the side projects, the one-offs, the “why nots?”, the backroads, the adventures and extra hours spent here or there that alters the landscape in irreversible ways.

I’m going to tell you a few stories, now, because to tell only the most immediate would be to overlook the incredible amount of luck that even brought that most immediate story into the realm of possibility – and serendipity. Continue reading

Thirtyist: 7. The Voice


Let me be 120%, Swarovksi-clear: I hate the sound of my voice. Hate it.

Won’t listen to it. Won’t harmonize. Won’t do multiple takes on a vocal track. Won’t listen to my TV and radio interviews. Won’t record a goddamn “Hi, you’ve reached [redacted], leave a message after the ..” Nothing. I wasn’t born Morgan Freeman or Ryen Russillo. I sound like a 23rd-Century robot-parrot hybrid after 12 cartons of Winston, 3 gallons of cough syrup and shot out of a cannon, filtered through a vocoder. Continue reading

Thirtyist: 6. Why I Don’t Listen to Voicemails


This might shock you, but my phone rings pretty regularly. Friends, family, business associates, clients, telemarketers, (gulp!) debt collectors, bounty hunters; they all hit up the digits on the regular.

I keep my phone on silent, so there will be several instances throughout the day where I just don’t get to my phone. Sorry about that.

But, I do call back, and when I do, I’m often peppered with this question: “You get my voicemail?”

“Yeah,” I’d respond, “but I didn’t listen to it.”

“Why not?”

“I never listen to voicemails.”

Only once every Haley’s Comet do I get asked why, and I’ve sharpened my excuse down to, “I just call back. I figure if it’s important enough to leave a message, it’s important enough to tell me again.”

Well, that’s not entirely true. Continue reading

Thirtyist: 5. Nadir (Director’s Cut)

(Author’s Note: What follows is an expansion upon a column of the same name I’d already written in my ‘Buffalogeddon‘ series. A close friend thought this would make for an excellent Thirtyist piece, and I agree – it would be hard to imagine a complete documentation of my life without it. However, in the spirit of trying to keep the material new, this has been remixed and remastered and deleted scenes have been re-added. The other one was PG, this one’s rated R for language, adult themes and graphic depictions of substance abuse. So, mom, you’ll want to cleanse the palette.)

All I wanted was a milkshake.

I popped up the trunk of the 1991 Pontiac Bonneville, a DOA car-corpse in the vast, empty expanse of a vacant lot at the University at Buffalo. I aggressively pried a ramshackle 15-speed out of the formerly beastly and bright hunk of rotting metal.

The formerly beautiful vehicle had been undone and unhinged by leaks, busts, cracks, scratches, rust and wrecks. Age, really. Does that to cars just like people. After 11 years, 176,000 miles, two roadtrips down the East Coast, countless journeys across the Northeastern United States and a few sojourns across the border into Canada, the transmission finally caved. She needed a nap. All that remained was an empty-soul shell of a 3800 V6 with a pile of clothes, some empty pizza boxes, various tools and assorted eccentri scattered across the front passenger seats. Debris from the tornado that was my life at the time.

This was my home. How did I get here?

Continue reading

Thirtyist: 4. Mardi Gras


To seek celebration through suffering is the essence of a life well-lived.

Only those who have the stones, the moxie, those who dare to scale the rocky terrain of accomplishment, connection and bonding can truly suffer, for they are the ones who endure the mountainous road, and those who grieve the loss of what they’ve earned. Continue reading