Thursday, December 24, 2015

Back in the silk saddle!

Daaang, you ain't too bad at fillin' out some briefs, Ray Smuckles—

Oh! Hey there! Merry Christmas! Caught me in my reverie, you know? For those of you unfamiliar with my reverie—which is hopefully all of you— that's when I do the full-length in the morning and check my complete regalement before I step out for the day. Brushed, shined, tucked and peaked. Brushed, shined, tucked, and peaked. Don't know what peaked means? Check out a photo of me. That's peaked. I'm always peakin'. 

Oh dang, there's the phone. It's gotta be Roast Beef. Hey, Roast Beef! (I'm gonna take this call. He probably wants to know when he can drop off my portion of Christmas moussaka. Damn does he do it up creamy and lamby, and I KNOW he smokes that eggplant all gentle, subtle, American Greek boy makin' moussaka his own, dig.)

(It was actually Pat, reminding me not to park across the sidewalk when I drop off his present this year. Reminds me, I got to get him a present. Hm. What do you get for a ass hole? Answer that. I need help. Every year. Set your calendar. Don't say toilet paper. Tried that once. He didn't get it, and said he didn't use the kind I got anyway cause of bleach or whatever. If you ask me, Pat's like the one dude ever who needs an anal bleaching...of the soul.)

Hey, I'm back. Now I'm sittin' here with a tusky mochacchino, blissed on a Razzberry jammer scone and slice of chive and ham frittata, finally writin' this blog again after a few little while.* Sharp chilled strained OJ and still Perrier at the side. Don't do bubbles in the morning. Bad for the lining.

Phew. Whew. Here goes. 

So at first I was like, how do I tell my story of where I been? I feel like I should relate all that has passed, since much people got their hay up askin'. Problem is, it was all big and heavy and shit and every time I wanted to write it out and get it all off my chest like my therapist said to—be all honest and dispel my tensions and move on and all that—I felt bad about draggin' everybody down. Couldn't do it. Too much to relate, and all of it too pity-party soundin'. It ain't Smuckles to crybaby on stage. So I was stuck not sayin' anything, and you were stuck not readin' my blog. It was hopeless for us all. A vacuum. I left the world blogless, and without form, and darkness was on the face of my MacBook Pro.

Then a miracle happened. Stone cold. Completely unexpected, like all the most classic miracles.

The miracle was that I saw a YouTube interview with my boy Dicky Valentine. (You know Dicky, right? Lead singer of Electric Six? They do that Down At The Gay Bar song? Best band ever, probably, and that song is up there with The Star Spangled Banner and Fuck Tha Police**. Love those guys, love me that Dicky Valentine.) Anyhow. I was lookin' at a YouTube interview with him (he even had a Santa hat on! True story!) and he was all like, "I don't know what I'm singin' about most the time. I'm just havin' fun." And you know what? I heard him say that, and I was like, that's me! I ain't a main dude of suck times. I'm just bein' Ray to have fun, you know? If you want to read some tear-jerker of a blog about a dude who almost died and lost it all and had to learn how to walk again and tell people he didn't remember what they did together in recent years, and eat all his pride on dry grain toast, well, google most of that sentence. It ain't gonna lead you to this blog. 

What am I talkin' about with all these bad-times references? Okay, real brief. As you may remember, I basically keeled over dead when I tried to quit boozin'. Disappeared blank from my own mind a couple weeks, then went all inpatient for a good long while, then hit the road and met some characters. MANY characters. I'll get to those stories here, 'cause they fun some of 'em (except Altimeter Tim, that guy was just goddamned brain dead from bein' on acid and weed his whole life, and I have NO idea how he paid for that little apartment of his, or any of those dumb Japanese figurines that were always showin' up in the mail). But not today. Today's about movin' on, bein' in the present, and bein' damn happy that of all the molecules in all the gin joints in all the infinite universe, I got a set to call my own. (They teach you how to think this way at inpatient, minus gin references.) I'm seein' the silver lining of everything, and I'm thinkin' of havin' a signature coat made this way besides. Could be a thing, like how Prince wears purple, or Donatella Versace looks like she could eat Hell and shit raisins. 

So this is me breakin' the silence. I hope you ain't been worried. I'm off the trouble shrub now, and stayin' that way. When you were on the donk 24/7/365/20+, you don't get to go back, or it's curtains. Yellin' and cryin' at bus stops, filth in the hair, huge Reeboks popped from shufflin'. Ain't judgin, just sayin'. I get all blissed on some early wake-ups now, or fine red chili and a handshake down at Curtis Smallfield's, or even just installin' a Hollywood smoke cannon where the tailpipe on a Tesla would be and drivin' around while the boys GoPro that action and we do up kind of a viral thing with a four-figure targeted social media ad spend and closed-loop ROI tracking. Group trip to Cabo with the proceeds. The simple things.    

Okay, I'm off to do some last minute Christmas stuff. Thaddeus gonna just puddin' up my hair today, for the group photos I'm havin' done tonight, and I'ma treat myself to a sick Purple Label black cashmere turtleneck I had my eye on down at the Hidden Hills Ralph. It's gonna look ill as the devil on film with my Bally camel hair 2-button. 

Merry Christmas, one more time! 


* Seven years

** If anyone ever needs to remind me who I am—like if I get hit on the head real bad—I just need these three songs on a mix, and a glass of (still) water.

Friday, December 12, 2008

I hella like this basic Italian dude.

There's a new basic Italian dude in town! I hella love the guy. His name's Vito, he runs this kitchen at this place Tre Otto, and he rocks some nacky gold nugs -- maybe three chains and a piece on each pinkie. Hilarious, but way committed to quality. He does me up some real light-quality lasagna at lunch, you know, not that white sauce freezer crap that gets broiled under a jet engine in the servin' dish, but some real family tomato -- the sauce almost so light you want to put it in a champagne glass with some voddy D and a horseradish kiss and a staff-o-celery. You know what I mean. Dude has a touch. Dude has gentle fingers, if I can say that about a man.

I ain't know the guy too close yet, but I bet I get in on tight with him. I ain't like me nothin' more than an Italian who knows you're in for the game. That's when you really eat right, when they invite you back into the kitchen, when they always doin' this and that and gettin' you a Negroni and the chef fries you up some calamari and it ain't on your tab. Next thing you know you're chillin' while they close, havin' a cig in the back door and helpin' them lose some wine that's gonna go bad before they open again.

You know what I'm gonna do? I'm gonna go there for dinner tonight, even though I been there the last four days in a row. There's a point where you're a groupie, but there's also a point where you're a made regular, and I got to bring hard game so I don't just come off like some half-cocked hokey American suck-up who watches too much Godfather and thinks goombahs are the best. It'll be recon: I got to pay attention tonight and figure out Italian man-huggin' behavior. That shit is probably more complicated than Japanese bowin'. I really don't want to screw it up. That's like what Larry David would do, and that dude gives me a damn ulcer.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008. Sorry if this goes on.

Man, I had it large on Thanksgiving. The actual deal itself was small, just me and T and Beef and Molly and Lyle and lil' old Philippe. Connie was off with his dang old new somethin', and when I saw Pat and Rod at Andronico's and invited them, Pat turned to me and started explainin' their own plans while behind him Rod pretended to hang himself with a baguette. He didn't need to use the baguette, because usually the hand motion of hangin' one's self is enough. It seemed pretty amateur for a dude who is pretty much an actor.

Anyhow, this is what I am thankful for this year:

1. My own awareness that most taco places ain't "green," and use tons of styrofoam, plastic cups, foil, and plastic bags for every takeout order. It helps me not go to taco places, which in turn keeps me from rockin' a sick bubble-chub at the waistline.

2. I am thankful that I have an appreciation of good, simmered-up black-eyed peas with nothing more than salt and butter.

3. I am thankful that my mom ain't been callin' too much lately. I love the old gal, but try havin' somethin' new to say every day when the only thing you been doin' is chuckin' empties into the pool and hittin' golf balls into a lawn shed ("Raymond! Do not DO that!").

4. I am thankful that stereos have gotten smaller. Mine hasn't, but I know this helps a lot of people in apartments.

5. I am thankful that I seem to care about Prime Time again. For a while I was just lost in the woods, signing some pretty lame acts, doubting my taste. I'm glad to say that this morning at 9am I called VeePee An' Tha Psickeninn' Psocciety and told them that their contract had expired due to inactivity. The call actually went pretty well, and I'm going to play tennis with their graphic designer next week.

6. I am thankful that there have been no news stories about kittens bein' harmed lately. I ain't so into kids, but when you think about it, the most they should get is yelled at — NEVER harmed.

7. Lastly, I am thankful that my boy Beef is comin' over for some stick in about...oh, there's the knock on the sliding glass door. Dude needs to feel comfortable just comin' in. Jesus, Beef.

I am thankful that you read this! And this.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Beef is back in town!

Man, it was good to see Beef and Molly kickin' around the pool again today after that long-ass honeymoon. Looks like they got a thirst on for piña coladas! They are out sittin' in my trick teak chaise lounges, still in relax mode and gettin' some rays. Maybe I'll whip up a little crostini platter lunch for all of us...I been watchin' this bald guy Mark Bittman on TV, he flies to Spain and eats really small pieces of food, and it looks damn good. I'ma do a...I'ma do...garlic shrimp on toasted rounds with olive purée and feta. They say no cheese with seafood, but they do a lotta talkin', so it's bust-out time. I will also do a thing with some three-ballin' white anchovies, hearts of romaine, and GROSS caesar dressing. "Gross" means the illest new form of kindness, all.

[an hour passes]

Damn, I just got back from havin' crostinis with the new couple, and Beef is hella in place! Witness:


RAY: Check out these GROSS crostini I whipped up for us! Even did some little prosciutto roses, can you dig it?

MOLLY: Wow! Thanks, Ray! This is totally nice! I love the little cocktail swords!

BEEF: [has Yankees baseball cap and sunglasses on, plus no shirt] Man that is a fine plate. You are a good dogg, Mr. Smuckles.

RAY: [notices that Beef is in a calm, confident place] Eat up, didgeridoo! Nice hat, by the way.

BEEF: I been wearin' hats. It suits a man.

MOLLY: I couldn't believe it. We pulled the RV into this big mall and he went right into this "Lids" baseball hat store and bought a Yankees cap.

BEEF: The Yankees got much money, all.

RAY: Valued at $1.2 billion, dogg!

BEEF: Yep. This an anchovy?

RAY: White anchovy. Not the nasty stuff. Mild as hell. Delicate. You got to try it.

BEEF: [bites, chews] Damn now that is a mild anchovy. That is fine, I can see what the fuss is about with these creatures. I bite into a regular anchovy, all oily and rancid, I go into a state. Not this time.

MOLLY: Oh, these are wonderful. And what's on those little watermelon cubes? Is that...tomato pulp?


See? See? The dude is changed up a bit. His talk came from a place of calmness. It's like he found this one disc he can stand on in the universe, a place where he has some balance. Good for him. It's gonna be fun talkin' with the new Beef.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

I'm Sorry.

I'm sorry, but I just been havin' the greatest time lately. I been goin' to what they call Super School, you heard of it? It's like a school, you know, like we all had to go to, but it's for adults. Instead of teachers sayin' what's important, you decide what you want to study, and the teacher has to make it fun. The teacher also has to be flexible, though, 'cause you're essentially a customer. (Yeah, it costs some pretty serious scratch, and materials can be expensive, but keep reading.)

I was like, "I know basically nothin' about France, except that Napoleon got shot at Waterloo (not true), and then things started to go downhill for him, since in those days doctors were like, 'Bullets? What are those? Is that kind of a new thing?'" That made me decide to learn French history, but regular school never floated my boat too hard, so I remembered that some of the guys at the club do Super School once in a while, like to learn machine gun theory or how planes work and stuff. I made some calls and pretty soon I was enrolled.

French history really ain't nothin' to get too worked up about. Basically they're like everybody else, but their homeless people wear fingerless gloves. Anyhow. After a few lessons the teacher, Mr. Fluét, was like,

MR FLUÉT: Ray, I can tell that you are not really into this.

ME: What?

MR FLUÉT: Can you turn down your iPod for a minute?

ME: Oh! Uh...Louie the Sun King. Lewey?


ME: [turns down iPod] Sorry, 'teach. 'Sup?

We decided that my class in French history should turn into one of those classes where you train your nose and palate to identify the tastes in wine, and it got much more interesting after that. He tried to break out that chart of the different wine-producin' areas of France (Champagne, Bordeaux, etc) but pretty soon it was clear that I wanted to focus on the flavor "profiles," and not a bunch of map stuff that I'd forget or consider boring.

He FedEx'd us up a Nez du Vin kit, that thing with all the different major aromas in little bottles, and we picked up a few cases of primo vino down at Cask'n'Bladder (that's what I call Provini's, the high-end liquor store over by the meat place, south of the stadium). Here are my notes from our first tasting:

Pomerol - kinda black and raw, wine + cherries, invisible splash of pepper (v. faint)
Vouvray - dry/wet, sweet, "outdoor" wine
Amarone - wow. totally good
'81 Chateau Mouton Rothschild - DAAMN this wine did a handstand in my mouth (mouth went up + down 3X while open)
Gewurtztraminer - crisp apples with deprecated rapeseed
Ketel One (my idea)
Gulden Draak - belgian beer hella flavorful all 10.5%'n it
Woodbridge Sauvignon Blanc - how did this get in here was what the hell leave it for the janitor's wedding or some shit
Pinot Noir - where'd fluééééét go that lightweight
Viognier - oh he was at his car getting batteries (?)
Lambrusco - fluét he threw a battery at me but we were hlla. laughin all silly
Nachos alla Meeting - nachos that cn. be prepared quietly during a meeting usin MRE technology

Damn. I don't even remember leavin' school for home that night...musta' walked, 'cause I had to go back and pick up the Escalade the next afternoon. Ain't heard from Mr. Fluét, I think he got kind of a head on from the Ketel. I'll call him in a week after I decide what I want to learn next.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Story of My Hair.

Man, what a log ride it's been with this bald spot of mine. Last time I wrote I had just started with Silas Dong, that random hair and skin doctor I found in Chinatown, and I was all jazzed about his acupuncture-type therapy and immense personal calmness. Remember that sign I told you about in his window, the one with the three pictures of the top of a dude's head, goin' from totally empty of hair to totally covered again? I read it wrong.

See, I figured that Chinese stuff got read right-to-left, you know, the opposite from our way. Turns out I basically read the sign backwards, because it was written left-to-right, with the full-head-of-hair guy gradually gettin' balder in each panel. Silas Dong was a hair loss specialist, alright. A SPECIALIST IN MAKING YOU LOSE YOUR HAIR.

I almost had a heart attack when I went in for my second session and he proudly showed me a clear template with rings on it. On a small center ring was the date of my first visit, and he beamed when he showed me I had "grown" two full rings since then. He got really confused when I started yellin', "No, I...naw, man! What did you DO?! What have I DONE?!" I even knelt on the floor for a second, covering my dime with my hands and wonderin' if I was gonna cry.

He sized up the situation pretty quick. In about six seconds he had handed me his sister's card, Phyllis Dong. (I guess a lot of honkeys mess up when choosin' Chinese therapies, so they have these things at the ready.) Phyllis is a hair re-GROWTH specialist (I even wrote down the word re-GROWTH? on a note pad and underlined it and she smiled and nodded). Phew, man. I tried to hand Silas the three hundred I owed him, but he was all wise and smilin' about it, pushin' my hand back, so when he turned around to get me a copy of his card "in case I should ever reconsider," I slipped the cash under a legal pad on his desk. I know he knew I did that, so I just shook his hand and headed a few doors down to his sister's office.

Her technique is basically the same, and I've already grown back the two rings I lost. Re-growing the stuff that went before Silas is takin' more time, but I'm confident somethin' will come of it. I figure, I'll be happy if my dime gets small enough so that Thaddeus can style it like a super-intense cowlick. I seen some large cowlicks in my time, and I never think the dude is baldin' or dodgin'. I wonder if Clooney has a cowlick in the back...time to get on Google Images.

See you later, Chochachos, and thanks for all the letters of support in my dark time.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The deal with my hair.

Like I was sayin' last time, it's been rough. I been monk dimin' for over a month now, and my mind has been all over the place. I even uninstalled the 3-way mirror in the bathroom so I wouldn't be tempted to stare at the bald spot and obsess or fret over it. I can't remember the last time I did home improvement — look what I'm driven to.

Western medicine is pretty much useless when it comes to hair-regrowth technology, so I decided to go lookin' east. Just 'cause it's a little weird and different don't mean they ain't figured a few things out over there in China, you know. I cold turkeyed it, just walkin' into the first place I saw in Chinatown that seemed to have anything to do with hair — in fact, this particular place showed a three-panel set of drawings where the top of a guy's head goes from totally empty of hair to completely covered again. On the classic old-school frosted glass door panel, underneath the Asian writing, little letters said Silas Dong, Hair and Skin. I was sold.

I was a little nervous goin' in, since I ain't know the first thing about this kind of medicine, but right away the place had a real calm vibe. Feng-schway? That what they call it? Anyhow, this place had it in spades. Silas was sittin' in the corner of the small front room, at his desk, just Chinesin' around, you know, lookin' at Internet and stuff. He didn't greet me right away, but when he did, I could tell he greeted me at the perfect time to make me feel at home. A second sooner would have seemed anxious, a second later would have seemed rude. He played the hello to a T. Very few men can really say hello, if you think about it.

I didn't even say my name or anything, he just welcomed me into this real comfy chair, kind of like a recliner with the top half of the back missing, and started examining and massaging my scalp. It was nice — he wasn't into all kinds of insurance papers and stuff, all like havin' me with a clipboard for half an hour checkin' "no" in every single disease column (except glasses). We got down to tacks immediately, just two men with no nonsense between them. He made some thoughtful noises while he was examinin' my dime, and pretty soon he seemed to have satisfied himself.

"Three hundred dolla," he said in a professional, calm way. I could tell by his confidence, and the careful way he had examined my head, that three hundred dollars was EXACTLY what he knew to charge for my precise condition. It was really relieving, because if he could set a price to it so clearly, then he must have had a solution in mind.

I nodded, and he had me take my shirt off and go into a back room where I got on my tummy on a regular sort of doctor's examination table. He also had me take my shoes off.

I sat in there for a few minutes and relaxed. He must have been consulting charts or something, because right before I went in he asked me my birthday. When he did come in, he had all these lit candles on a cafeteria tray, and a little jar of needles. He'd heat a needle up, stick it real delicately into a part of my foot or back, and get on to the next needle. He said the different candles burned at different temperatures, and that the particular heat of the needles was important to where he stuck them. Sounded good to me, and it didn't actually hurt like you'd think it would. Each needle brought almost a welcome release from wherever he stuck it.

After about fifteen or so pricks I started to feel—I don't know how to say it—like my juices were alive. Like my body had gotten an important phone call it had forgotten to expect? I don't want to sound like a crazy man but I even feel like my dime tingled a little bit.

Dong wouldn't let me pay him after the first visit — I always like that. It's one of those business features you ain't see too much any more: trust. Faith. Respect. We'll see what happens. I'm pretty blissed on the dude and his services so far, so I'm sure I'll have some updates soon. God, what if seein' Dong solves my problem? What if I don't have to monk dime?