Wow, there’s gonna be a hockey season after all. Now all this spare time I’ve been so productive with can be properly spent staring at the television in angst. Thank god…I found myself watching Strange Brew just for the evil robot hockey scenes. When it got to the part about the flying dog I felt shame.

In case my fellow Americans are wondering what hockey is, it’s what Canadians do to make money, move to the states and marry beautiful American women. That’s right, just like in the famous Canadian song. Except in the famous Canadian song the Canadians rear back from the beautiful American woman and their ghetto scenes and war machines. Then they grunt, unhhhh. Like a Canadian James Brown.

Moving to the States is also the only way Canadians can win the Stanley Cup, which they then take home for a week, fill with Molson and invite over their friends. Once it’s drained of beer and retrieved from the bottom of the pool, the Canadians return to the States to play more hockey. And now that NASA doesn’t need that arm thing on the space shuttle anymore, playing hockey in America is the only way Canadians can make money.

Whatever happened to that Space Shuttle arm thing? Did the Canadians take it back?  Maybe it’s up in Toronto, in the Hockey Hall of Fame, now the  Hockey and Space Shuttle Arm Thing Hall of Fame. I’d go see it actually. Wayne Gretzsky, Gordie Howe, Rocket Richard, the arm thing.

Lorne Greene was a Canadian.

Leslie Nielsen was also a Canadian.

Bachman Turner Overdrive was several Canadians, plus some.

William Shatner is Canadian. And Neil Young. And Joni Mitchell. I never really liked Joni Mitchell. I alluded to that in a Brick’s Picks column once. Said something  snide and forgot about it. Some old hippie sent me an angry email. Really angry email. Called me a young whippersnapper. It was some of the only hate mail I ever got. Until the time I said something nice about Esperanza Spalding winning the Grammy and I got angry emails from Justin Bieber fans.

Justin Bieber is a Canadian.

So was John Kenneth Galbraith. And Joey Shithead. And the beautiful blonde lady I saw in a movie about car crashes. She had no facial expressions. In a car crash,  no facial expression. Having sex in a car wash. No facial expression. Another car crash, no facial expression. Having sex in a junk yard, no facial expression. Maybe there were facial expressions but she was so blonde, blonde everywhere, that I couldn’t see her eye brows. No eye brows, no facial expressions. Huge eyebrows, huge facial expressions. That’s why Italians always seem so excited and Swedes make those dull Bergman movies.

Most of the Hanson Brothers are Canadian.

Ya know, I got a box from a Canadian once. I can’t remember what was inside. Not the Stanley Cup, that much I know. And not the space shuttle arm thing, because that was still up in space helping and flexing and grasping. Maybe it was a record album. Maybe a fruit cake. I don’t know. I do remember that the box was stuffed with pages from Toronto’s alternative weekly. Kind of like the LA Weekly but without all the ghetto scenes and war machines, or any American women at all, actually. Lots of Canadian women, though, and Canadian men. Not pictures, just their personals ads. I unkrinkled  the pages to see  what was happening. There were all these people looking for partners into bondage and whips.  Dominatrixes and golden showers. I swear, hundreds of ads, all from horny, kinky Canadians. Some countries are into ghetto scenes and war machines. Others like to spank and pee.  You can see the advantages. Wars lay waste the land, whereas Canadians can get by with a few rolls of paper towels.

I asked a Canadian friend of mine about that endless personals section once. How it went on for page after page. About the bondage and the pee. Oh yeah baby, she said, that’s how we roll.

She blamed it on the long winters.

I better stop now. I have Canadian friends, all of whom played hockey and can hurt me. And out-drink me. And who make more money than me. In American dollars.

And in what war did Canadians beat the shit out of Americans?

It was the War of 1812, Alex.

And Alex Trebek is a Canadian.

Manon Rheaume, all  five feet and seven inches of her. And if you have to ask who she is, you're not Canadian.

Manon Rheaume, all five feet and seven inches of her, is a Canadian.

April Fools

Subject: Announcement. Date: Sun, 01 Apr 2007

To all my friends:

After a great deal of soul searching and inner torment, and with my half century mark looming, I thought it was time to come clean. I am coming out of the closet.

It is a fabulous feeling, being free. We will work out the details shortly. But I just wanted everyone to know the real me. This is who I am. A gay American. I hope the shock is not too much. I hope we will remain the dearest of friends.


Phillip (aka Brick)
April 1, 2007

Ha!  Didn’t know I still had that. Think my friend Danette had kept a copy. She sent it back to me. Blackmail purposes, probably. Anyway, it was the very last April Fools prank I ever pulled. The nuclear option. Most people believed it. Even my mother. I was floored how people automatically assumed that Brick, that big giant gnarly punk rock drumming jazz critic, was coming out of the closet. Apparently they had no problem believing it. They were surprised but supportive. I got beautiful, understanding emails. A lot of them. It was pretty funny. Hell, it was hysterical. I called my wife, giggling. As the afternoon wore on the responses grew longer and even more beautiful and supportive. I began to feel guilty about the time they grew to several hundred words. They kept coming. Dozens of them. I felt guiltier. Finally I received one that was almost literature. It was the sort of thing that should have been printed in a major national magazine it was so beautiful. It almost made me wish I really had come out of the closet. I realized I’d better put an end to this before my feelings of guilt turned to self-loathing. So I thanked everyone for their kind words and then said, uh, April Fools. You’d be amazed how fast love and understanding turns to anger and resentment.

Of course, there was that response from a close friend. It wasn’t long and supportive and beautiful. Just the opposite. In fact it was only three words: I knew it, she said. She knew it? She never explained how she knew it. I wondered what I had done but was afraid to ask. I still wonder. She never did say April Fools.


Robert Benchley

When I was a kid I wanted to write something as brilliant as Robert Benchley’s wire from Venice: STREETS FULL OF WATER. ADVISE. Funniest thing ever, streets full of water, advise. If I had to pick one joke as the funniest joke ever, that’d be it. Streets full of water. Advise. Then the Western Union man goes the way of the pencil sharpener and emails don’t have quite the same zing. Certainly none of the drama, the show, the tipping: Streets full of water. Advise. *;) winking

And now email fades. What, then, now? Facebook would ruin it utterly–you’d be amazed at how funny all the comments are on Facebook–and I’d have to explain why the streets were full of water. Debate would ensue and somehow I’d wind up a fascist. I could try Twitter, though had Benchley and Twitter been contemporaneous, he’d be just another tweeting drunk. Me, I’m not much of a drinker, I just ate a brownie last night without asking first and was washing dishes at 6 am and making the glasses sing. I came to at noon with dishwater hands mumbling streets full of water, advise. Another smartassed dream. Most guys my age have dreams about their secretaries. Me, I tell jokes. Streets full of water, I say, advise. Everyone laughs and laughs. Then I wake up.

Maybe I’ll try Linked In.

Robert Benchley in "How to Start the Day" (1937).

Robert Benchley in “How to Start the Day” (1937).


Jazz Critics Awards

My favorite music columnist ever was Bob Tarte, who never let the fact that it was completely untrue get in the way of weaving an odd story into what should have been a collection of world music reviews. I mean he’d still review the cds, but the reviews would be worked into a strange narrative that sometimes was true and sometimes flat out bullshit. No matter. He wrote well, was funny as hell, and never met a genre he didn’t like.

One Sunday nite I was putting together the week’s Brick’s Picks and man what a dead week. It happens. I tried over and over to write a column that didn’t bore me to tears. No go. So I decided this was my Bob Tarte moment. And here was my opening paragraph:

Well, the Jazz Critics Guild had their awards ceremony, perhaps you saw it on TV. Stars galore, and world famous jazz musicians, and Hef and all the girls. Paparazzi and autograph seekers and Joan Rivers on the red carpet, trashing all our clothes. Billy Crystal couldn’t make it, but fill-in Ricky Gervais was sweet as pie. Quite the gentleman. Boney James grooved but unfortunately no one could understand anything he said the jive was so thick. Great hat, though. The presentation went on all night, and every critic went home clutching his Lenny except yours truly. Couldn’t even win the Tallest Jazz Critic award (who knew Kareem was reviewing jazz now?) All the critics left with their statuettes, Joan Rivers gushing and all the rock writers green with envy. Empty handed, I left for the after party. It was a drag. Kept getting mistaken for the bouncer.  Eventually everybody wound up in the recording studio under the pool at the Sunset Marquis laying down “We Are the World” in different time signatures. I couldn’t get into it and split for the Rainbow, got into an argument and was beaten up by Lemmy. This town will break your heart. 

I submitted and forgot about it.

A couple days later I get a panicky email from my editor. URGENT!!! Call me ASAP about column!!!!!!! So I called him. It was the first time we’d ever spoken actually…in fact he was one of the only of my thirteen editors at the LA Weekly to ever hear my voice. And to this day he’s still never met me. None did, I think, except the first couple. I preferred being the mysterious cat who turned in copy no one there could understand without ever being seen. That way they didn’t bug me and I didn’t demand they pay me what I was worth. (Writers got paid then. We didn’t yet owe it to our readers to write for the sheer privilege of having them read us. I have actually been told this, more than once.)  Anyway, my editor was freaking out bad. He said my first paragraph didn’t make any sense, and the other editors–his bosses–freaked. Apparently they couldn’t tell if it was real or not.  Maybe they were freaked out about lawsuits. Ricky Gervais would get all uppity English and sue. Joan Rivers would say something perfectly awful. Lemmy would beat them up. I have no idea. But my editor killed the lede. He editor was effusively apologetic. I think they expected me to throw a writerly tantrum. I guess we do that. But I just said no problem, I just made it all up anyway. It was a dull week. He sounded bewildered but relieved.

Hell, I said, I just thought it was funny. He didn’t. He would now, as he’s no longer there, but being an editor at the LA Weekly at the time was like working for Stalin in the 1930’s. A people’s hero one week, a non-person the next. All traces removed. At least the bullet to the back of the head was metaphorical.

Anyway, when the issue came out that Thursday the offending paragraph was excised, as I was told. In its place was the following:

“It’s awards season and even the Jazz Critics Guild got in on the red-carpet action.”

Which means they believed it. I don’t know who exactly–was it my editor (which I doubt), or the editors above him, or Stalin him or herself? I have no idea. But whoever it was, they believed it. The Jazz Critics Awards, the Jazz Critics Guild, Ricky, Joan, Lemmy, all of it. Even “We Are the World” under the pool ar the Sunset Marquis. I liked to think they fell for the whole bit, hook line and sinker.

I said to myself I can retire now.

And I did, a year later.

Sin is sin

Not sure what this is about, but sin is sin.

Not sure what this is about, but sin is sin.

What’s the difference between fornicating and adultery? Or is adultery just fornicating with lies? I think drunkenness goes with both. I’m not sure about the rest, though fornicating combined with witchcraft might be interesting. Mixed with idolatry might get too weird. I’d prefer not to talk about homosexuality just now.


Call me naive, but before spammed email I must confess I had no idea there was a thing called a footjob. True. It’s not that I was unfamiliar with the concept, just that I had no idea that such a thing is officially called a footjob. You look it up in one of your sleazier dictionaries and there’d it’d be: Footjob. Noun. Etc. Etc. I imagine the Oxford English Dictionary even has it as a verb. Look it up in Wikipedia. (I didn’t.) Also before spam I had no idea there were whole films of nothing but footjobs. Lots of them, a mini-industry’s worth. A couple out of work secretaries, a defrocked priest, some toe nail polish, and voila, a footjob movie. I didn’t even know that there were actresses and actors who specialized in films about footjobs. Or that one of those actors was named Brick Wahl. Who also directed them. Alas, I am unfamiliar with his work. I do know that sharing the same name has not yet led to any confusion. But someday, somewhere in the San Fernando Valley, it will. Some computer technician will ask are you THE Brick Wahl, the footjob guy? I’ll say no but, um, thank you.

And if it weren’t for spam, I would not be prepared for that at all.

On seeing a Facebook post about the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian

Must say I am jealous  of your pictures from the National Museum of the American Indian. I gotta take my own Native American there. So she can become even more Native American and inscrutable to her dumb Irish husband than she is already.

You know what the difference between a Native American Museum and an Irish American Museum is? The Irish American Museum has a bar. Nothing else, just a bar.

You know what the difference between a really smart Native American and a really smart Irish American is? The really smart Native American passes the bar, but the really smart Irish American has never passed a bar in his life.

And you know what the difference between the Yankton Sioux tribe and a bunch of Irish Americans is? The Yankton Sioux have a herd of buffalo*, while the Irish Americans have heard the one about the Irishman who brought a buffalo into a Mulligan’s bar. The bartender says sorry, Paddy O’Malley, but we don’t serve buffalo in here, and Paddy says but I swear on my sainted mother’s grave this buffalo says he’ll be  paying the bill. Bartender says Paddy, I knew your mother, and I knew your mother’s mother, and I still don’t believe that buffalo is going the pay the bill. Paddy rolls his eyes and says sweet Jesus can I be believing me own ears, that you, Sean O’Casey, a good man and a real Irishman, have never heard of a Buffalo Bill?

The difference between a room full of Irishmen and a room full of Yankton Sioux is a room full of Irishmen would think that was the funniest joke they ever heard, while a room full of Yankton Sioux would just stare in stony silence.

OK, that’s it.

Gimme a break, I just made them up as I went along. You want funny get some Jewish guys. I’ll be in the bar with the rest of the boyos.


* they do, actually, a herd of several dozen bison.

Ennio Morricone

Ennio Morricone? The guy who did the soundtracks to those Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns?  Cool scores, yeah, but I hate those movies. I really do. Imagine living in a world where every hip person loves The Good, the Bad & the Ugly except me. That’s my world. It’s kinda like a Bergman movie, but I don’t like those either. In fact I don’t like anything. Not even me, except when I’m great. Which is most of the time. But then I am an insufferable egomaniac, and I can’t stand egomaniacs. So I’m screwed no matter which way you look at it. I could go on, but it’d be boring, and I’m already bored, and I hate people who hate bored people, which I do.

Mark Zuckerberg

Hockey games, unlike football or baseball or basketball or anything actually popular, have the best commercials. Not sure why, but if you wanna see funny weird commercials, sit through a hockey game. I love those commercials. And while I haven’t seen a He’s totally weirding out the Great One or a Soaked up Philly like sponge in a while, some come close. Anyway, I see those commercials and I think how I wish I could write commercials. That would be my dream gig. My dream gig dream gig even. The ultimate gig. I love commercials. I study the damn things. The way I write is very heavily influenced by commercials, the funny ones. (It was also heavily influenced by really well written sitcoms and French economic historian Fernand Braudel, but nevermind.) Oh well, let me dream if I want to, as Willy de Ville used to say. He’s dead now. All those New Yorkers keep dying. You wonder what the hell they were doing wrong. Well, I know what they were doing wrong, but we’d be getting off topic. Besides, none of you are reading any of this by now because this is Facebook [I wrote this on Facebook] and no one gets past the first sentence or two. It’s kind of like Twitter with baby pictures. In fact, this whole piece could have been done as a series of smiley face variations. Happy, sad, confused, surprised, angry, frustrated. Maybe even the one that giggles. Then I’d drop in the cow or that sheep because I have no idea how a cow or a sheep qualifies as an emoticon, or what they mean. Unless they pictographically represent a cow and a sheep. Then they’ll become ideograms that represent the concept of cows or sheep, then a phoneme which will represent the sound of anything that sounds like the word that represents the concept of sheep, and then into a morpheme which…well, forget it, that’ll be centuries from now, all knowledge will be reduced to some sonic spinny ring things and you can make love to Yvette Mimieux all you want. Maybe even get her to act.

If I got off topic, I apologize.

I have to stop writing essays on Facebook. I never mean to. I try to write only a sentence or two but look what happens. Now I’ll hit post and Mark Zuckerberg will own the thing, the way he owns all those pictures of big bosomed Facebook friends who find themselves in ads for untrustworthy home loan companies. Well, he can have this essay, tuck it into a christmas card, and fuck himself.