Trust me—I'm a writer.
First Loves and the American DreamOriginally published at Jalopnik
"God only knows how many miles were on that cantankerous tank, its 110-hp V6 crammed next to the archaic optional 3-speed manual in the same way chickens are in slaughterhouses. He paid 400 bucks in cash for it and promptly drove it across the country, where he discovered that the AC was broken. He drove it to conferences and interviews with his friends from his apartment in Wisconsin, all the way to California, Louisiana, and Connecticut. One day, presumably a few months before I was born in late 1987, it was impounded by the fine members of the Madison police. So naturally, he tossed the keys in a trash can and never looked back."
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the MotorcycleOriginally published at Hooniverse
"We first took off the sidecovers and fuel tank. With the rear seats folded, we could crank the handlebars all the way to the left and slot the motorcycle in on its side. The rear wheel barely fit with the hatch closed, threatening to put a dent in the plastic shrouding the rear hatch. A drop of gasoline leaked out of a drain tube somewhere—enough to fill the entire cabin up with fumes. The carpeted floor mats were blotted with oil, fuel and grease stains that the rental agency would be livid about. I sat in the back, up against the passenger-side door. There was no room otherwise. 'Boy,' said Don, as we began to pull out of the driveway, 'you must have some awesome parents.'"
Trial By Smoke: Racing LeMons in a 1963 CorvairOriginally published at Hooniverse
"Thin, wispy streams of smoke poured out the engine bay. Sparks bounced off the fan. The acrid smell of plastic filled the tent. We shut the car off in a panic and pulled the plug wires. The smoke had cleared, revealing burnt wiring going to the distributor cap. In a haste to get it fixed the wiring had been accidentally reversed, frying the damn thing to the core. The race started in 25 minutes. We were dead in the water before we would be dead on the track. There was the possibility that I would never don a race suit and drive the Corvair. Somewhere, deep in the back of my mind, I was prepared to accept that."
Perched on the Cinderblocks of EternityOriginally published at Examiner.com
"The J-Body Owners Club raises a toast of red Solo cups filled with Olde English 800 to you, dearly departed. They will eulogize your vaulted nameplate, your legendary muscle cars, your last vestige of Native American xenophobia expressed by an illuminated Indian headdress hood ornament, as well as cars named Chieftain, Firebird, Phoenix, Aztek, the arrowhead logo, and naming the entire division after a leader of the Odawa tribe who was most famous for seizing Fort Detroit in a vicious rebellion against white settlers and the British."
Live from Moonshine Island: Stories From the Ithaca Music Scene»Originally published at 20 Watts
"Now here is the Ithaca scene complete with all of its diverse eccentricities, told from the eyes of those who know the city the longest: the veteran blues artist, the bouncer who’s worked all across town, the just-graduated student who elected to stay, the bartender at one of the hottest venues on the Cornell hill, the staff writer turning the city inside out for over 10 years now, the respected Visitor’s Bureau promoter. Each of them has their own stories about the music and the people, the bands and the bars, and none of them can ignore the impact it’s had on their own lives. Like a force greater than themselves, they can’t take their eyes away from it."
Sharks & Minnows»
"The procedure is always the same. Ease into the left lane. Pull over slowly, gradually, but immediately. Turn off the radio, turn on the interior light, and hands on the steering wheel. Don't reach to roll down the window until he approaches. Don’t fumble for your wallet in anticipation—wait for him to say that. Don't make any sudden moves that will give him an excuse to believe you're acting suspicious. And, no matter what, don’t be anything but polite—even subservient—to the trooper shining his flashlight in your face."
Tastes like Perestroika!»
"The CCCP poured out with a weak fizz that looked too embarrassed to exist. It smelled like the sort of obnoxious berry-scented body lotion that slutty unfuckable girls in high school doused themselves in and that you could detect from across the gym—the smell of personal failure, angsty horniness, and blackberries. According to their hilariously incomprehensible website, CCCP 'taste [sic] of litchi and citrus – super flavorful, fragrant and aromatic.' I couldn’t imagine it would taste any better."
Rules on Ramen»
"Don’t waste your time adding spices and additional flavoring to your ramen. You’re not Wolfgang Puck on a breakthrough molecular gastronomy quest. It’s ramen. No matter how much oregano and chili powder you add to ramen, the result will still taste like ramen with too much oregano and chili powder in it. My advice? Just enjoy it straight—after all, if you had the means to cook more food, why would you be eating ramen in the first place?"
"The bulb’s remains had been sitting in the bag on our dining room table for about 3 weeks now. Most of the shards had been swept up. We hadn’t opened a window, evacuated the building for the requisite 15 minutes, launched signal flares to awaiting rescue helicopters, or anything of the sort. If a doctor examined me I would probably be hailed as a strange new medical mystery- 'one for the textbooks!,' they’d say in hushed tones."
Welcome to America, home of the Double Down»
"The Double Down represents everything silly, glorious, shameful and cheesy (literally) about contemporary American society. Whether we like it or not, it is our cultural ambassador. It’s a neon Vegas sign. It is a Pet Rock. It is a 1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz in Woodrose Metallic with a 390 and 4-speed Hydramatic. It’s KFC’s most talked-about food item for a reason. It has garnered scorn, praise, ire and bewilderment, from both here and abroad. It is something the Europeans will despise—because it couldn’t have originated from any other country."
Yo Dawg, I Heard You Like Sandwiches: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Friendly’s Grilled Cheese Burgermelt»
"With the advent of the Double Down, and this creation, it’s become clear that nothing is sacred anymore and that no boundaries exist for the modern glutton. Why not a steak sandwich with slabs of16oz sirloins instead of sub bread? How about a Reuben sliced in between two layers of mozzarella sticks? A taco wrapped in an entire pizza? An Egg McMuffin, hold the muffin, replace with Jimmy Dean sausage patties? A pastrami and ribeye? Fried-chicken-stuffed fried chicken?"
"Look Sue, the Alan Parsons Project isn’t just some stupid band! It’s a psychedelic odyssey into the sonic depths of a vast musical soundscape! A veritable smorgasbord of experimental texture and rhythm! We’ve been over this!"
"There’s a game roommates secretly play with each other. From the minute they move in with each other, whether they know it or not, they are in this game together. It’s called Roommate Chicken, and it goes like this: eventually, somebody’s going to have to take out the trash or do the dishes or unplug the bathtub or buy more toilet paper. It’s just a matter of holding out for as long as possible for the other one to do it."
Books I Never Read in High School»
"She was not a nice person by any means. She droned on through important plot points and attempts at provoking discussion in the most monotone of voices, with a weariness that some believed would cause her to snap at any second. And occasionally she did—her voice would get louder and louder until she was practically screaming; yet the authority was still lacking, like a lion’s roar played through a speakerphone."
Gordon Ramsay Swears at You»
"Look, I thought running the potato through a grater would make it better. It’s not my fault the cabbage and carrots have been sitting in the crisper drawer since the Battle of Hastings. Ok, maybe it was."
With Apologies to Orwell»
"As with any good writer, there’s always a beer at hand. Sometimes it’s not beer, but a peg of Johnnie Walker, a glass of Spanish Cabernet, or premixed gin & tonic in a can. Nevertheless, it is almost always beer, only because it’s on sale by the dozen at Sainsbury’s."
"'Oh no, you don’t want to use the ATM in there,' the man behind the counter in the sex shop next door had warned us earlier in the evening. 'They charge you seven bucks for that thing.' He introduced himself as Melvin, a man who was clearly in control of his domain, overseeing the vibrators and ball gags at the back of the store, the finger condoms, and cock rings hanging below the counter, and the rows upon rows of DVDs stacked neatly and organized by category."