Sunday, December 25, 2016

Holiday Shoppin' All Done


Hey everybody! I'm comin' at you like a Christmas Carol on fire! Santa's numbers are in, the reindeer are all gassed up, and the friends are ticked off! On the old shopping list, that is. Here is what I got everybody:

1. Philippe. Never forget a kid and his magical sense of hope in the world. Kids give a lot of credit to the world and expect beauty, which is a pretty rad position that our DNA takes, and we all got to help that feeling as long as we can and hope some of it stays alive til adulthood. For Philippe, I picked up a VERY smooshy-cooshy pair of UGG moccasins! Shearling for my dearling, yo. Also, a beanbag chair the size of a hot tub.

2. Pat. I got him one of those heavy bases that dispenses Scotch tape. It was cheap at Dollar Tree. He never called me for my birthday. No, tape was not included.

3. Téodor. I bought T one hundred pounds of meat. 80/20 beef, chicken thighs, chicken breast, veal, lamb chops, ALL the news you can use. Waiting in his garage is a stand-up freezer with a red bow on it, plugged in and hungry. Osso Buco me, T!

4. Nice Pete. It's always hard to shop for a ...he is a good guy. He has done me right at many turns. I bought him a really nice hickory-shaft hammer from Restoration. I thought he might like the craftsmanship or something. I thought he would owning such a fine, honest gentleman's tool. I hope he likes it. He is a good guy. He has honor. Peter H. Cropes is a fantastic individual.

5. Little Nephew. He's been kind of distant lately, kind of wrapped up in his own extracurriculars, but I know the dude always appreciates some thick white tube socks and a Taco Bell gift card. I maxed up $250 on that thing so he can have some memorable trips through with his boys and dates. It was a while ago but Beef and I once spent $40 on a trip through the Bell, and it will always be a laughin' matter with me (especially the part where Beef made me hospitalize him for a stomach pumping after he freaked out about all the sodium searin' his urethra and veins or whatever). I also taped my cell # to the gift card so neff can text me a thanks if he gets around to it, or ever needs my help in a fix.

6. Molly. Molly is the bomb. When she ain't book scratchin' for her MBA or shinin' brass tacks, she is patient as hell with my Beefy-boy. I think some day he will actually be a better full man, and it will mainly owe to her horse-breakin. Anyhow, I know she's been wantin' to learn oil paints, and that stuff is goddamn impossible to figure out on your own ("fat over lean?" Each stroke takes a month to dry? What what?) so I got her a year of weeklies with Cardamonio Angelo-Lautenburg Mantiquetti, this bomb-ass oil painter who does lots of Pebble Beach and Scotland-type stuff. He's hit Seven Pines a few times with me and Mayor C., real nice guy.

7. Emeril and Spongebath. Got them a combined salt and pepper grinder at Marshall's, where the salt and pepper are in the same chamber and come out together. I figure guys like that probably like salt the same amount as they like pepper.

8. Cornelius. What do you get for the guy who has done everything? Keith Richards. I bought Keith Richards for Connie. I'm completely serious. To make things way easier on everybody, neither guy has to see each other, but as part of the deal Keith is obliged to chat on the phone with Connie at least once a week, for twenty minutes, and he can't act like a dick. I know Connie actually has some questions regarding blues key modulation and foreign organ transplant logistics, so this could be fun for him. And Keith gets a huge tax break as a "Brexited consulting foreign export," or whatever it is that my boy at the State Department called it, which encourages Keith not to mess with the "no-dick" part of my contract.

9. Lyle. I got Lyle a carton of Reds, a handle of Jim Beam, and an Old Spaghetti Factory gift certificate that he can use for dinner with some of his buddies. I have been real down on Old Spaghetti Factory ever since their waiter treated me poor on a date a couple years back, and kind of wanted to send them a little somethin' in return.

10. Chris. Chris is always into nerd-assed books about biographies or autobiographies. I just wrote him out a piece of paper that said TOM PETTY - HOPE HE PRODUCES ONE and taped it to his car. That is his present. Frankly, I ain't too into Chris these days. Always coming and going. Mostly going. Never includes a player. Talks big on old business guys with money who crave his ideas. Always wearing that quilted puffer vest with the sheepskin collar. Guy's buffing a move and shading an OG. Screw that man. NO GIFT.

Obvious as all hell is Beef not bein' on this list. I always do him and Molly up with some fragrance dinner out and new shoes and trip to Taos, but this year was different. He played at real balance with that Golden Tabloid, and I liked what I saw. So I got the squabble a week in Kauai, Princeville edition. Room staff cued to leave GT on the nightstand, fresh screens and clean glass each night.

Alright, everybody! I smell my prime rib cracklin' in the oven, and it's time to sazzle up them Yorkshire puddings. I got a tight little group of the gang over for gift distro tonight, so I can't be late! Love to you all, wide open.

One hundred, One Thousand, One Million Times,

Friday, September 02, 2016

Watch Out, I'm Doin' a Grateful!

I'm doin' a Grateful! I'm doin' a Grateful! Watch out, everybody! You know it's a thing! 

MOST IMPORTANT NOTE OF THIS BLOG: This ain't some deal where I have anything to do with the Grateful Dead. I just got to clear that up at the front of it. (No offense to anyone in the band or to anyone who has devoted a big part of their public armpit schedule to that band, but I hate that damn band. To me their music is like if your car doesn't start when you're on your way to go buy a melody but instead of worry about it, you go lie face down under a hedge and smile.)

(Except for Box of Rain. Box of Rain fully captures the loose textural honesty of the California folk-rock land-run that the sonic tin and other unchecked aggression of Dr. Byrds failed to achieve. The ghost of Clarence White weeps for the gently pulled strings here, which bleed into soft focus like orange light drawn across the Painted Desert, yours truly under serape and sedation.)

No, indeed! This is all about that positive energy that cats like my boy "be-ful-ness coach and buttered coffee pioneer" Tim Ferris be dumpin' up the web. I probably rap on energy styling so much y'all be like, "Ray! Hey! Hey! Shut the fuck up! Be the oak, not the damn branch on the wind!" I know, I know. I'm the oak, like, real, but y'all can suck my Aston Martin if you can't be the branch sometimes. Now...Let's Get Positive!

What I am damn grateful for at this present moment:


I got no idea what this means. My guess is, "He Was Attacked by the Acetone Baby in Public." Look this action up on YouTube. Just paste that Russian right in there, in that YouTube search box. Russians have such a classic idea of what is funny. Russian "funniest home videos" make Bob Saget look like a fiberglass horse hitched to a cement mixer on cinder blocks. You are gonna see some old-school thonged-out ass cheek, but also a dog costume guy who "pees" thirty feet at rich people. (Spoiler alert)

2. Manicotti

Okay, so the age of fetishizin' micro-regional Italian food has pretty much come to a close. Remember back in the '00s, when the latest craze was some Ligurian barnacle that grew on the left side of this one rock, and everybody with two Riedels to clink together set aside $250 for whatever specially-designed copper cooking vessel Williams-Sonoma was schleppin' for it? Yeah, that's done. We back to the "careful, the plate is very hot" era of Italian gustatin', and I couldn't be too much more thrilled. Red gravy, garlic butter on sourdough, ground meat, soft noodle, and browned cheese. Rock me, Italy, but I am so down to tug your granny-panties.

3. Home Cologne Lessons

I had come to see cologne as somethin' I had to do myself. It came down to a pretty primal feeling: why let some other creature wet up my crannies and mark me his own?! No gene-set with a few bucks and dignity to match should ever flash another tribe's stank! That's when I knew I needed to call Guerlain. French stank-house since the 19th century, these are the roundest-ball players. I had current G-poppa Thierry W. and his local fix Anpromimoué up for cantaloupe and day-six cream with basil (my own favorite cold-infused herbal extraction method), and we ended up talkin' aged leathers and Tunisian patchouli-trafficking way into their boarding pass. Nice thing about players like them though is that nothin' matters but the ideas at hand. A first-class plane ticket goin' gray is just another neat phone call to an agent who wants to make the world perfect 'cause you're the best.

All that said, I'm still drivin' my own style hard on my first fragrance product. Base notes of Meyer lemon, middle notes of organic lemon, and top notes of Kanye West's @Oblivious.

Whew! It is so good to share some of my many vitalities with you. You remember when you were a kid on the playground, and you had a red pocket knife, and you met a kid who never saw one before, and the kick you felt gettin' to share that piece with him had you feelin' like a million bucks plus genius and god? That's this, but a million readers over.*

-=Poppa Ray=-

*I don't know if it's a million. I don't like lookin' at website stats. Truth be told, if it takes a password, Ray ain't play. Maybe only two people read this. Maybe I don't even hit "publish" in a way that sends the typing out to the world. Can't care, won't care. Peace and love in ya fleshdom.

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.