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eurotrip

July 12, 2016
London

I spent almost two weeks in Europe alone. I didn’t get lost, I didn’t get sick, I didn’t get arrested or drugged. I saw three new cities and three new countries. I ate food I wasn’t so sure I would like and sometimes I liked it, but usually I didn’t. I drank tea in London and beer in Brussels and espresso in Amsterdam and absinthe in Berlin and cider in London and whiskey in Amsterdam and wine in Berlin and whiskey in London and coffee in Amsterdam and beer in Berlin. I went to six museums and had dinners entirely alone. I had dinners with friends and strangers and family I haven’t seen in a decade. I cried alone, I laughed my face off with friends I haven’t seen in years. I sat by rivers and watched farms out the window of a train compartment.

I got angry and sad about things back at home. I got jealous of other people’s vacations while on my own. I got mad I didn’t have time to go to more places. I started reading a book. I stayed on two couches and in four beds. I did handstands with strangers and drank beers under an umbrella on the street with New Jersey-ans. I walked through the rain with a hood over my head. I ran through London and Berlin and did yoga in Amsterdam. I listened to music and started writing a book (maybe). I talked to Dutch bartenders and German mixologists and French tourists and yoga teachers from Toronto and a political advisor named John who explained why there weren’t trains in Newfoundland and Dutch boys who’d just pissed off a bridge into the canals and a Mexican consultant and Australian tourists and a woman with a baby who left her jacket on a train and Artem in Amsterdam and Angela in Berlin and my friends’ friends from high school and work and people at a party in Notting Hill and a bar in Southwark and a pub in Chiswick and actors and mathematicians and dads and business partners and bosses and more.

I almost missed a flight, I almost vomited on a plane, I got fined 60 Euros, I saw an improv play, I wrote my wishes on a piece of paper at the Jewish museum, I saw girls in their underwear standing in windows, I tripped up the stairs and skinned my left knee. I left a black sock in London. I stole an umbrella from a bar in Amsterdam. I pretended to watch soccer. I called it football. I pretended to care. I eavesdropped, a lot.

I listened to that Tame Impala album about ten times and a fuck ton of the same Adele song. I talked a lot to my iPhone video camera and will probably never show anyone those videos.

I told my friends how I was frustrated that this trip wasn’t solving all my problems and wasn’t transformative and how I wasn’t sure what I expected that I would learn, but I wasn’t learning it. I was wrong. I learned to trust. I learned to be alone so much that now I’m ready to step back from it. I’m ready to share. I’m ready to adapt my schedule. I’m ready to share. I said that already, but I’m ready to share. I’m ready to live a little slower and sit and chat a little longer and I’m ready to look into someone’s eyes and stay a minute. Being scared of the end result is exhausting. I’m done with fear of the unknown.

I’m ready to have important conversations and silly conversations and moments where I just listen. I’m ready to work hard and take my time and be wherever I am, while I’m there. And I’m ready to care more about all of the people. And I’m ready to not be affected by the judgment of others.

I’m going to fix my teeth and take care of my skin and run fast and swim hard and sit in the sun and eat what makes me feel good.

I’m going to be okay. We’re going to be okay.

 

We’re Better Than This, America

May 5, 2016
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My Fellow Americans,

We find ourselves at the threshold of a “new time”. These times of great change are difficult and often we get wrapped up in ideals and forget our humanity. I urge you to remember your humanity. The political climate of the United States is currently ugly, and growing only uglier, despite Ted Cruz dropping out of the race.

I trolled some Trump supporters on Twitter this morning and found anti-Hillary rhetoric, memes and conversations that I expected, but what was unexpected was my own reaction. “Yeah, yeah,” I thought, “they’re just scared of her and they’re crazy.” But if they’re scared and crazy, what are we? Posting anti-Trump rhetoric of our own goes through his supporters’ filters the same way theirs go through ours: with many grains of salt and not a lot of recognition. I’ve been “feeling the Bern” for quite a while now, but some of the anti-Hillary sentiment coming from the Bernie supporters is equally, if not more, upsetting.

Let’s step back from this particular election for a moment and discuss simple humanity & survival. As Americans, and human beings, we all pretty much want the same things: safety and health, the opportunity for prosperity, and an inheritable place to live for the next generations. There are outside threats, as there always have been, and natural threats, but the biggest threat to our humanity, safety, health, prosperity and planet is human beings ourselves. If we lose sight of the fact that we are in this together and continue to run elections like a contemporary Roman Coliseum we will ALL lose. To think that getting your candidate in the White House is winning, and the other party’s candidate in is losing is a horrific way to run a country. Democracy is by the people, for the people. Oh, right. That. Let’s not forget that. For the people, the people, us, all of us born here, all of us who came here to learn, to work, to teach, to perform, to grow, to prosper, to be a part of this diverse, beautiful nation.

We have a sordid past, though, and whether your family has been in this country since the Revolution, came through Ellis Island, or you just got here last year, we have a responsibility for the actions of our past. This land wasn’t ours to take, yet we took it from the Native Americans and haven’t even come close to finding a way to make up for the fact that we wiped out an entire culture trying to build one for ourselves. Slavery and racial discrimination mar the history of our beautiful country, and the war for racial equality, the fights against prejudice and injustice are still being waged. Our rise to power in the global community was a direct result of the use of the atomic bomb, one of the greatest crimes against humanity in the history of human beings. We’ve messed up. A lot, but that doesn’t mean we should continue to. In fact, we should learn from our mistakes and be better

I’m not going to tell you who to vote for, or what to believe in, or that we need to band together to maintain our status as a world superpower. I’m just going to offer a few reminders:

  • Learn. Constantly. Keep asking questions, especially when you can’t get answers. Ask, ask, ask! Search for answers, dig for truth. Make your own educated decisions.
  • Teach compassion. Be compassionate. Teach love by practicing love. Teach respect by being respectful. Teach what you know, and learn what you strive to know.
  • Remember that we are united, not divided. Think about your next door neighbor growing up, or the guy who delivers your Dominos pizza, think about your car wash attendant, your bus drivers, your cousin’s new baby, your doctor, your therapist, your bartender, the kid you babysit for, your dry cleaner, your toll booth attendant, your AT&T customer service representative, and remember that we all have goals, we all have families (by blood or otherwise), and we all want to have a place to live peacefully.

Think about those things before you vote. Practice these things. Think about these things every day. And on days when you can’t think about anyone else and you seem to be drowning in the minutia of your own life, hope that someone else is thinking about these things. Hope that someone has the humanity to lift you up. Don’t drown in hate, in fear, in desperation, but swim towards something better, and pull a few people up with you.

 

We’re better than this America.

 

PS: That’d be my slogan if I were running for office.

river

August 16, 2015

a sense of self

beyond your rising sign,

deeper, like

the way that you brush your teeth,

or the way she put mascara on

on the cruise ship

and how it made you wonder if you’d been doing it wrong all along.

the evolution and devaluation of friendships

as they float by like rafts in a river

whose serene, glassy surface is interrupted

by skipping mile stones from the banks of

Men.

“Amy” and other connected thoughts

July 15, 2015
amy_movie_poster

On Tuesday night I went to see “Amy”, the documentary about Amy Winehouse. Yes, Amy was an extraordinarily talented singer and songwriter, and yes, Amy was a drug addict and an alcoholic, and yes, my weekly whiskey web series uses Amy’s song “Rehab” in its opening credits. Let me correct myself; I set the opening credits of “Women Do Whiskey” to Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab”.

All future episodes of “Women Do Whiskey” will have a different song over the title card. About halfway through our first season with “WDW”, I had second thoughts about using “Rehab” in our opening, but dismissed them as being too conservative. Look, it probably doesn’t make any difference (we are certainly not licensed to use the song…I KNOW-but we don’t make any money off our show. Yet.), but the fact of the matter is, if someone told me (or Rosie) to go to rehab, we wouldn’t say “no, no, no”, and that is not an issue to be taken lightly.

We’ve gotten a lot of flack for our show. Several members of our respective families disapprove of what we’re doing, think it is “low” or “distasteful” and have used many other adjectives with negative connotations. This merits discussion. First of all, I challenge you, disapproving viewer, to ask yourself if you would have the same feelings about the project if we were reviewing, say, wine. Secondly, I wonder if you would have the same feelings about the show if we were men reviewing whiskey. If your feelings change with either of those caveats, maybe ask yourself what about those other situations would be acceptable to you, yet WDW is not.

Now, let’s discuss the “real issue”. We have been urged by our fans to drink more, get drunker, and even wear less clothing (I know, seriously). These things don’t appeal to us. From the beginning this project was about getting together and having a drink, talking about that drink, and being friends. We are interested in learning more about whiskey so that the show can evolve, not so that we can drink more.

If I ever did have a problem with drugs or alcohol I would hope that one of my close friends or family members would step forward and confront me about it. I would hope that I would listen. Substance abuse hurts so many people, and I care about the people in my life, and I respect my body.

I respect my health so much, in fact, that I have just signed up to take a yoga teacher training course. I try not to eat junk food! In fact, I’ve never had a fast food burger (okay, I’ve had In-N-Out, but that’s it). I don’t drink soda, I don’t buy potato chips, I don’t even eat breakfast cereal because it’s loaded with sugar. I’m pretty damn healthy, so why would I want to poison my body with excess booze? I don’t. All right, sometimes it happens, but a hell of a lot less than it used to, and honestly? I turn down shots. I categorically refuse tequila (unless its very high end, I just can’t stomach it). Sure, I could probably drink you under the table, but I don’t want to. That’s not fun to me. You know what is fun? Good conversation. Good music. Dancing. Laughing. Kissing. Do you know how many drinks you need to have for those things to take place? None. Okay, sometimes one just to get you out of the house, but what I’m saying is, its not vital. Yes, I have a YouTube show about whiskey. Yes, I love wine. Yes, I like to go out and socialize. Yes, I’m outgoing. But I value my friends and family too much to let any liquid get in the way of those relationships. Women Do Whiskey is about friendship just as much as it’s about whiskey. Actually, more, because without the friendship that Rosie and I have there would be no WDW. Now, let’s raise a glass to the women, not the whiskey.

(If you haven’t seen the show, check it out here! We’re on hiatus until the fall, but there’s 20 episodes to catch up on!)

Nepotism: Part II

June 7, 2015
RICWB Polaroid

When I was fourteen, my father took a job on the movie Riding In Cars With Boys. I was a big Drew Barrymore fan at the time and my Dad arranged for me to be an extra when they were filming in a church near the Tappan Zee Bridge. I was sure that that as soon as I walked in, the entire cast and crew would see that I was a natural born star, and the writer would write a part, especially for me into the script. After a few mornings of being chastised by the hair department, one afternoon in Brittany Murphy’s trailer discussing her nuanced performance in Clueless, a role that I “really identified with”, and countless hours flirting with some kid named Mike, I finally made an impression on the crew one day. I had already been yelled at by the set dressers for eating too much of the “prop” macaroni salad, so I had to find something else to occupy my attention when I was stuck on set. In my downtime, I’d been making good use of my newly brace-less mouth to suck face with Mike behind the central air conditioning unit outside the holding area, but at this particularly moment I was stuck in front of off-limits food, waiting. This was when I discovered that my chair was broken; the plastic top was only attached to the metal legs in the back, so the whole front could lean back, like a recliner. I started rocking back and forth, and while it wasn’t quite as stimulating as searching for Mike’s tonsils with my tongue, it would do. All of a sudden, the plastic part of the chair snapped right off its metal base and I, dressed head to toe in a bright green 1960s jumper, tumbled backwards onto the floor, just between the camera and Ms. Barrymore herself. Lorraine Bracco jumped out of her seat, James Woods’ eyes got wide, somewhere, someone yelled “hold the work!” and director Penny Marshall screamed as everyone rushed to my side. This was my moment! Everyone was fussing over me, making sure that I wasn’t hurt. I sat up on the floor, brushed my hair off my face, made my best doe-eyed, damsel in distress face, and looked up into Penny’s eyes, waiting for her to take this moment to “discover” me. It would be the moment I referenced in countless future profiles in Teen People, Cosmopolitan, and maybe even Vogue. I blinked my eyes and lifted my arm to be lifted to glory, and just in that moment, the producer stood up and announced to the silent and stunned room, “It’s just Richard’s daughter.” Penny breathed a sigh of relief, Drew went back to having her makeup retouched, Dr. Melfi sat back down, and somewhere, a grip probably farted. I shot the producer a dirty look and noticed my father, in the back corner, laughing at me.

Women Do Whiskey: my new web series

April 1, 2015

A friend and I started a series on YouTube where we review whiskeys and make jokes…check it out! This week’s episode is Mad Men themed.

Why Father John Misty’s New Album Promotes Unrealistic Expectations For Love For Beard-Chasing Non-Basic Bitches

March 28, 2015

 I Love You, Honeybear, the latest recording from Fleet Foxes drummer Josh Tillman turned solo artist J. Tillman, turned Father John Misty, is fantastic. It is beautiful and funny and musically delicious. In its own twisted way, it is a record about love, but it is also about consumerism, malaise, drugs, sex and his marriage to filmmaker and photographer Emma Tillman.

Here in 2015, the idea of love, especially within the subset of tragically hip milennials who resent that very moniker, is deformed. It is so mainstream that it has possibly transcended and come out the other side and become “cool” again. In the dark, raunchy, and deeply funny FX show You’re The Worst, the lead character delivers a speech about marriage in which she says that, “maybe buying in is the punk rock choice.” If you give I Love You, Honeybear a few listens, it sure seems that way.

Album Art

Album Art

Tillman’s lyrics ring equal parts romantic and cynical. In Chateau Lobby #4 (In C For Two Virgins) he sings, “People are boring/But you’re something else completely/Damn, let’s take our chances.” In the same song, “So bourgeoisie to keep waiting/Dating for twenty years just feels pretty civilian.” Many young-ish people today look at life through these beige colored glasses; endless choices, Tinder and other dating apps providing myriad options, but nothing satisfies. In many ways, society has homogenized. People are boring. Almost everyone loved Breaking Bad, has a tattoo, has an opinion about Kim Kardashian, uses mason jars for things other than canning preserves, and let’s face it, here in America, kale is the new black. What’s the ideal way out of this vortex of normality? In the near perfect Holy Shit, we get an answer: “Maybe love is just an economy based on resource scarcity/But what I fail to see is what that’s gotta do with you and me.” Maybe, the answer is as simple as finding the “right person”, which Tillman has seemingly done.

This is where the problem of unrealistic expectations arises. Some people tend to romanticize life, and when listening to an album like this it is easy to do so. Upon the first few listens, it would seem that a love like Josh and Emma’s is ideal. In fact, jealousy may even arise; possibly massive, soul-splitting, deep sadness and jealousy. The sex is great, he idolizes her, all other women pale in comparison, he respects her art, they don’t try to change one another, etc; it is ideal, or at least it would seem to be. After twelve (or four-hundred) listens, it becomes painfully clear that there is nothing perfect about this relationship.

Tillman refers to his Father John Misty persona (if that is indeed any different than his own) as “aimless” twice in the album’s thirteen songs. The artist has reinvented himself twice since embarking on a solo career and clearly suffers from indecision when it comes to his artistic direction. In this album, he also references an inability to keep an erection due to prescription drugs, and the fourth line of the whole album is a list of what substances coat the Tillman’s marriage bed (It’s “mascara, blood, ash and cum.”) While at first a deeply artistic and bohemian sentiment, most self-respecting adults, even those who lean left, “forget” to wash their hair for several days, and spend the better part of a given week wrapped up in creative projects, really, really just want to wake up in a clean bed. Additionally, there’s nothing romantic about a lover who is so inundated with mood-boosting pills that he can’t get it up.

If Father John Misty’s I Love You, Honeybear has you aching to find your perfect hipster lover, just remember, love is never perfect, but it’s those very imperfections that allow it to be yours. This is an album about imperfection and the mess that is life just as much as it is an album about love, because the two go hand-in-hand and failure to recognize that will result in dishonest relationships and more naïve pretension.