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Sunday, June 19, 2016

25 Things; A Note to My 17 Year Old Self.



Dear Glenn,

My how the years have gone.  To be honest, as long as a quarter century seems, seventeen seems like much longer ago than a simple two and a half decades.  In that time, you went from a geek to well, good-looking geek, and from an unsure and late-blooming adolescent to a Naval Academy graduate, submariner, Stanford lawyer and the owner of a great law firm – oh and you’re also living in Las Vegas.  Yes, seriously.  But here’s the thing: it wasn’t easy.  In fact, it was nearly unbearable.  You and I both know that despite our hard candy shell, we can get pretty worked up about stuff – and boy, did we.  Now, I’m not so na├»ve to think that it all would have ended up the same had it not been difficult.  After all, we know that it takes iron to make steel – but, I’ve also spent a lot of days looking back and wishing we had done a few things differently. 

Interestingly, for the past seven years, we’ve been writing down the lessons we’ve learned; mostly as catharsis (by the way, our vocabulary has gotten fantastic), and a little bit of laughing to keep from crying, but also as a way of communicating, connecting and entertaining the precious few people you’ve gotten close with.  But, this is a new tradition, a letter looking 25 years back, to you, because as good as things got, and a few regrets as we have, I’d love for you to know a few things:

1.     Start writing earlier.  Turns out you do have something to say, and people are really going to love it.
2.     Stop writing poetry.  Immediately.  It’s awful, and you’d rather people find a picture of you naked (at this age) than any poems you wrote.
3.     You’re an atheist, and you’ve known it (already) for more than five years.  It’s ok, be brave and tell people.  Waiting twenty more years to stop “fake praying” isn’t being kind or considerate, it’s being cowardly.
4.     No one hates you.  No one even dislikes you as much as you think.  Being popular is overrated – be awesome, it lasts much longer.
5.     Stop dancing in private (i.e. the basement) – and get to the dance floor.  You’re going to be great at it, and just because one kid shoved you at a school dance doesn’t mean you don’t belong out there.  That kid amounted, literally, to nothing.  You’ve won more dance contests and danced with more pretty girls than you’ll ever be able to count. 
6.     You’ll forgive almost every bully from Centaurus.  Except James Richmond – because fuck that guy. 
7.     While we’re at it, go take a swing at James.  He’s not as tough as he seems, and believe me, he won’t be expecting it. 
8.     Go back to soccer.  You’ll regret not getting a Varsity letter, even if it took you all four years.
9.     Join the Math Club earlier.  Who cares if it’s lame?  Math is going to save your life.  Trust me.
10.  Brush and floss.  You’re going to invest in braces (because Mom & Dad couldn’t afford them), and it’s going to be great, but root canals and crown suck.
11.  Stop fighting with your mom.  No, it doesn’t get any better with the two of you, but it’s not worth fighting over.  You’re going to skip her funeral. 
12.  Be nicer to your little sister.  She’ll be the only real family you have.  She turns out to be your biggest fan and the only person you can count on when everything else goes to hell.
13.  Also, stop creeping on her friends (you’ve got no shot) and ask for advice on what to wear, how to cut your hair and how to dance.  She’s way ahead of you on all of these.
14.  Ask someone to the prom.  No, Jennifer Rizzuto isn’t even a possibility, and you’re not going to go with a cheerleader.  But, there are plenty of girls who would love to be your date, and you’ll always regret skipping it. 
15.  Charles is a better guy than you can possibly imagine.  Stay closer to him – he’s got more figured out than you think.  (Yes, his family is exactly as awesome as they seem)
16.  Stop praying to be “average” – we both know that wouldn’t make you happy.  Keep dreaming big; it all comes around.      
17.  Try out for football.  You won’t make the team, and you’ll get destroyed, but once you get into shape (and trust me, we do) you’ll wish you put the pads on, at least once.
18.  Apologize to Katey; you were being an ass.  She stays beautiful (25 years and counting) and brilliant; and you like her more than you want to admit.  Ask her out, already.
19.  Kiss Hope at Math Day.
20.  Don’t tutor cheerleaders with math homework – you’re right, they are using you. 
21.  Hug your dad more.  Turns out he was right about almost everything, and when he says he’s proud of you, he means it.
22.  You will never have better spaghetti than you have at The Blue Parrot.  Ever.
23.  Don’t run for Student Council.  You get killed, it’s embarrassing and you’ll have another shot at law school (which you’ll win).
24.  Stop looking for a place to “fit in” – we never find one, and that’s exactly how it should be.
25.  Your life is tremendous, so stop thinking about ending it.  You’ll get close a few more times, but you’ll always have someone close to you remind you that people love and care for you and that despite the setbacks, you’re going to do great things.

That’s it for now, young man.  It’s going to be a big year, so get back to work – and when you think about driving Terry to Taco Bell to pick up a quick snack during lunch, maybe skip that trip.

                                                                                    Sincerely,

                                                                                    42-year-old Glenn

PS – Tell your dad to invest in Apple stock.       

Saturday, June 18, 2016

42 Things



So…here, we are, on the occasion of forty-two years of sunrises, sunsets, summer and smiles.  This year’s installment marks seven years of keeping track of lessons learned and remembering to laugh, if for no other reason than to save from crying.  Forty-two isn’t a particular sexy number, which seems oddly apropos, because it’s certainly not a particularly sexy age.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m aging with all the style and grace of a Fail Army video, but still, it’s a fight that no one has ever won – Mother Nature and Father Time are still undefeated.  The best you can hope for is to take the fight into extra innings, and you can rest assured, I will absolutely ride this train until the wheels fall off (and even then, I’ll find a decent orthopedist to sew them back on).  In the meantime, there are plenty of lessons to be learned, and if these lists are nothing more, they are a reminder of my lifelong commitment to keep learning, and to remember that no matter how much I do manage to pack into this mind and body, there will always be a great deal more that I missed than that I actually got to do, be, understand, experience or know.  And so, with that in mind, and certainly having exhausted your appetite for self-indulgent introductions, here are 42 Things That I’ve Learned:

1.     There are more years between now and 65 than there are between 21 and now… And thinking back to how far I’ve come since 21, I’ve got plenty of time left.
2.     The Venn diagram of things that look good versus things that are good has a whole lot less overlap than I used to think.
3.     Everyone’s online life is a lie.  The beauty of real life is just how ugly it is.
4.     Ignorance is not an immutable trait, which is why we should never celebrate it.
5.     If your argument for anything has the words “Jesus” or “God” in them – you do not have an argument; you have a belief, which should absolutely be kept to yourself.
6.     If wealth and intelligence were complementary traits, college professors wouldn’t dress like hobos.  Most money is dumb money.
7.     I’ve determined the sexiest part of a woman’s body is her brain… with a three-way tie for second place.
8.     Flattery is like fashion: it’s best when it’s personal, it costs less than you think and nothing will make you look better to those around you.   
9.     The two least attractive words you can say to a woman at 42 are: “Never married.” 
10.  The great secret to business is nothing you’ll learn in Business School or in any school for that matter: it’s relationships, stupid. 
11.  In the social media era, we’ve never said more, and never meant any of it less.
12.  The success of any minority in obtaining rights, recognition and equality is not when they march in the streets, but when they no longer have to.
13.  I am wholly unequipped to interact with partisans in the “post-truth” era.  Turns out I really only have one club in the bag, and if facts and/or reason can’t get you to challenge your beliefs, congratulations, you found a way to be permanently stupid. 
14.  Fitness never goes out of style.
15.  Your jeans, however, always do. 
16.  The older I get, the more that Eagles lyrics make sense.
17.  There’s very little that I admire more in a person than their ability to be their true selves. 
18.  No matter what people tell you, they never get over their old crushes.  You got that, Katey?
19.  It took me over forty years to say it publicly – but I don’t believe in God.  At all.  I believe in people.  Like you.  And me.
20.  If you ever wonder if you should wear something, you shouldn’t.  Especially that hat. 
21.  Your faith isn’t ridiculous, but your religion absolutely is.  No matter which one. 
22.  When women say they won’t date an overweight man, they’re being confident, when a man says he won’t date an overweight woman, he’s being a body-shaming, woman-hating troll who should obviously die alone.  #Equality.
23.  Speaking of hashtags – that’s how lazy we’ve gotten, we can’t even be bothered to derive subtext - #WeNeedSomeoneToDoItForUs.
24.  Motherhood is not a magic wand – it doesn’t make you a good person, smarter or confer any special knowledge on you.  It’s only evidence of a functioning uterus.  Which is about as special as not being bald. 
25.  It’s not about being beautiful – it’s about owning your ugly beautifully. 
26.  When your childhood heroes start dying, you start realizing that you were your own hero, all along. 
27.  Watching my college classmates get command is a solid reminder that even the least promising twenty-year-olds can turn out fucking spectacular.  Maybe there’s hope for millennials, after all. 
28.  We’ve done a great job of creating universal shame for bigotry and ignorance – unfortunately, at the same time we also became completely universally shameless.
29.  Jenny McCarthy is responsible for more needless childhood deaths than any other person alive today – and not only is she free, she won’t even apologize. 
30.  I have never seen any woman, of any age, ever, get excited in any way by a revved engine.  Yet, somehow, every douchenozzle I come across continues to use this as their primary mating call.
31.  Only people with insane and unreasonable opinions even whine about not being “judged” for them – the rest of us are happily judged for what we believe in.
32.  The existence of multiple arguments does not make them equally valid or deserving of “equal time.”
33.  There has never been a better or more compelling case for the Electoral College (or any “republic” function of our democracy) than the 2016 elections.  Anyone who trusts public consensus hasn’t spent much time in “public.”
34.  The American distinction between marijuana and alcohol represents the single most effective PR campaign in modern history. 
35.  The older I get, the exponentially less poorly I feel about going to bed early. 
36.  No matter what else you do, or are or have done (cure cancer, save orphans, give to charity, etc.), if you’re a bigot – that’s all you are.
37.  I can forgive people doing almost any terrible thing – unless they do it to children, then fuck you. 
38.  Life is bad for your body – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t live it.  What are you saving up for?  Your second go round? 
39.  Believing in some of medicine is like in some of astronomy.  Like, I’m cool with Mars and Venus – but Mercury is bullshit (I read it on the Internet). 
40.  Finishing any level of school should not be called “graduation” unless there’s a reasonable chance you might not have finished it.  Ya got that, 8th graders?!
41.  Generosity is giving to people to need it most and who expect it least.
42.  There is nothing more important, more difficult or more valuable than simply showing up. 

Here’s to those who keep showing up - see you next year, kids.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Goodnight, Revolver


Today, on June 11, 2016, one day before I ring in my 42nd year aboard this crazy rock, I’ll say goodbye forever to one of the best friends I’ve had in Las Vegas, Revolver Dancehall and Saloon.  I know what you’re thinking – what kind of pathetic bastard counts a country bar as one of his best friends?  Well, if you have to ask, you’ve likely never lived in Vegas.  Friends here are hard to come by.  It’s a town of relentless hustle, where everything is for sale and things are rarely what they appear to be under the neon glow of a Saturday night.  But in this town where the Strip markets the same nightclub under two dozen different names, with endless “VIP Hosts”, slender European DJs with questionable facial hair and an entire ecosystem built just to get in to these clubs, the country bar is as timeless as it is anachronistic.  Revolver was much more than just a country bar, however.  For many of us, we made lifelong friends, lovers and dance partners there.  We laughed, cried, got too drunk and (sometimes) too sober.  We danced through injuries, bad nights and, God help me, a thousand replays of the Cupid Shuffle.  But still we danced.  Revolver is the first bar I’ll close since I closed my very first country bar: the Neon Armadillo, in Orlando, and this parting will be just as much sweet sorrow as that was seventeen years ago.  But, in the best way I know how to say goodbye, here are three things I’ll remember about Revolver: 

1.     Love At First Sight.  On my first visit to Revolver, having lived in the city for less than three months, I entered a line dance contest, jumped on a bar, ripped off my t-shirt and got my “Black Card.”  Back then, I was the only dancer wearing sneakers (Chucks) or with a towel in my back pocket.  The club was packed, and there were biker gang members, cowboys, rednecks and more short shorts and boots than I had seen in any one place before – everybody was cheering and having a great time, and I knew I had found a place to call “home.”  Five years later, the girl I danced with in the finals of that contest is a go-go dancer at a different country bar, there have been four different versions of Stoney’s (hopefully, this one sticks) and there are a whole lot more sneakers and towels in back pockets.  Sure, there have been other dance contests, different DJs and even more crowded nights, but of all my favorite nights at Revolver, there’s never been anything quite like the first one.

2.     Frienemies.  There’s nothing quite like your “home” country bar – as it creates a “family” of sorts.  And like any family, there are people in it that you love more than anything, and a few others you’d like to see wander blindfolded onto the highway.  Revolver gave me some of the best friends I’ve got here, and some of the best people I know: Franklin, Steph, Kaz, RC, Lara, Kristina, Nicco, Jason, Lauren, Theresa, Jacquie, Tavis, Jason, D’Awna, Dawn, Eric, Jared, LIZ, Nicole, Liberty, Shana, Shawna, Tony, Michael, Dayman and so, so many more.  I can’t imagine living here without friends like these.  But like any good hero, I also needed a nemesis, and I found mine wearing a schmedium shirt, demanding to be paid by the bar manager for doing the same three ice-skating stunts over & over and declaring himself the “King of Line Dancing” in Las Vegas.  Like it or not, that got me to give my very best on that little dance floor night after night and even in training and injury rehab – and for that, I’m just as grateful.  Oh, and even on the last night, like I’ve always said, I don’t know who the King is, but I know who it isn’t.

3.     Dance Like Everyone’s Watching.  There are a lot of different kinds of “great” country bars.  There are great places to drink, great places to pick up a date and great places to meet with friends.  And while Revolver was certainly all of these things, what is was most was a great place to dance.  The floor was small but perfect, easy to get on and off, and small enough to keep people who don’t know how to dance where they belong – in their seats.  You can see the floor from anyplace in the club, and the DJ’s?  Well, in addition to being some of my best friends, they are some of the best country programmers I’ve ever heard.  We line danced to songs we never thought we’d hear in a country bar, and only had to suffer through thirty minutes (or so) of dancing-for-idiots (i.e. “freestyle”) music, each night.  We once danced the same dance (Swamp Thing) for over a half an hour (thanks, Franklin), and had a floor where we were allowed to throw whatever stunts we wanted, without bouncer warnings.  Drinks were relentlessly kept off the floor, and drunks and idiots were always ushered away quickly.  I can’t think of more than one fight in all five years, and I have memories of hundreds of great nights, where I got home too tired to anything but peel off my sweaty clothes and get into bed.  Revolver was a dancer’s bar, and that’s what I’ll miss most about it. 

As author C. Joybell C. said “Ends are not bad things, they just mean that something else is about to begin. And there are many things that don't really end, anyway, they just begin again in a new way. Ends are not bad and many ends aren't really an ending; some things are never-ending.”  The last night at Revolver isn’t a bad thing, though many tears will certainly be shed.  And it also isn’t an ending – because in the end, Revolver wasn’t really a country bar, it was the people who worked there, danced there and spent part of their lives, there.  It was the joys, the heartbreaks, the spotlights and the dark corners.  It was country, it was Las Vegas and it was way too far north.  It was in a casino that most of us will never walk into again, and I can’t imagine it anywhere else.  It was small, but it was huge.  It was New Years, birthdays, Ladies Night and going away parties.  It was loud.  It was good, and now it’s gone… but what it will never, ever be, is forgotten. 

Thanks, Revolver – it’s been one hell of a ride.