WRESTLING ELEPHANTS

By Jamie Brisick

TEN YEARS

To celebrate our 10-year anniversary, I gave my beautiful wife four options:

a) Vegas weekend. Suite at Caesars. Dinner at Kibos. Stripper 101 at Planet Hollywood. Mani and Pedi at Spa Bellagio.

b) Luxury Cruise to Cabo. Three-night Baja Mexico Itinerary, all inclusive.

c) All-you-can-eat Surf ‘n’ Turf at the Sizzler, every Friday night, for a year.

d) Fly to Rio, dance down the Sambadrome, spend the night with a transvestite prostitute at the Papillon Hotel.

I think she chose well.

March 8, 2012

THESE CORNERS THAT WE PAINT OURSELVES INTO (RIO)

Barra da Tijuca, Rio. February 2012.

February 24, 2012

LOOKED A LOT LIKE CHE GUEVARA

February 17, 2012

AMNESIA IN THE SAMBADROME

February 14, 2012

MORE LOVE HOURS THAN CAN EVER BE REPAID

Thank you, Mike Kelley.

February 1, 2012

OVERHEARD ON THE F TRAIN

January 31, 2012

LIKE A SKIPPING RECORD

ME: ...I’m not sure how to put it. I get songs stuck in my head. Not exactly songs but three-second riffs. They play back over and over and over like a skipping record. Like right now I’ve got The Cruel Sea song “I Feel,” the part where it goes “I feel/Like nobody knows or cares how/I feel/Like I’m going to be kind of sick now/I feel…”, then it goes back to the beginning and plays in a loop over and over and fucking over!

DR. ROGER STEEN, ADDICTION SPECIALIST ($190/HR): How long has this been going on?

ME: Since as long as I can remember. Kindergarten. Nursery rhymes. Hanna-Barbera cartoons. “Here he comes, here comes Speed Racer.” “They call him Flipper, Flipper, faster than lightning.” The opening tune from “Good Times” tortured me through most of junior high.

DR. STEEN: Have you discussed this with anyone?

ME: No. I mean, yes, jokingly, like in a ‘shitty top 40 songs that got stuck in your head’ kinda way. You know, we all get songs stuck in our head, Doc, I know that. But for the last ten years or so, they’ve been non-stop. And LOUDER. I’ll wake up in the middle of the night to take a pee and BOOM, the disc starts playing, and I’m up for hours.

DR. STEEN: Have you tried mind-calming exercises? Counting sheep, this kind of thing.

ME: I don’t think you’re hearing me, Doc. This is my counting sheep. My nervous tick. All my life, whenever I get into an uncomfortable social situation, the song starts playing on a loop, like a security blanket. It’s not a bad thing. Or, it wasn’t a bad thing in P.E. in 11th grade. But for fuck’s sake it tortures me now. It starts with a song I like and then it persists and persists and persists. Fucking Bright Eyes! “Cleanse Song,” that bit “So I muffled my scream on an Oxnard beach/Full of fever dreams that scare you sober/Into saltless dinners” lodged into my head in Sao Paulo, Christmas 2007 and stayed well into March, New York, with relapses over the last four years. “Amateurs, dilettantes, hacks, cowboys, clones/The streets groan with little Caesars, Napoleons and cunts/With their building blocks and their tiny plastic phones/Counting on their fingers, with crumbs down their fronts,” that Nick Cave song—it’s been fucking hounding me for five years. Last week it was the Sunnyboys, week before that it was Iron and Wine. Doc, I know exactly what serial killers mean when they talk about hearing voices. It’s like I’ve got a long residency hotel in my brain, and the guests all overstay their welcome. In fact I’d even say my pot addiction and now my drinking and even that whole Internet porn thing was really just a subconscious effort to turn off the FUCKING RADIO!

I pause. Stand. Address the empty theater.

ME: See, just this very conversation, just this whole, ‘Doc, you gotta help me’ scene has done it. In my head, right this second, Mick Jagger: “Dear doctor, please help me, I’m damaged/There’s a pain where there once was a heart . . .” And I know he ain’t leaving any time soon.

 

January 25, 2012

LIKE A SKIPPING RECORD

ME: ...I’m not sure how to put it. I get songs stuck in my head. Not exactly songs but three-second riffs. They play back over and over and over like a skipping record. Like right now I’ve got The Cruel Sea song “I Feel,” the part where it goes “I feel/Like nobody knows or cares how/I feel/Like I’m going to be kind of sick now/I feel…”, then it goes back to the beginning and plays in a loop over and over and fucking over!

DR. ROGER STEEN, ADDICTION SPECIALIST ($190/HR): How long has this been going on?

ME: Since as long as I can remember. Kindergarten. Nursery rhymes. Hanna-Barbera cartoons. “Here he comes, here comes Speed Racer.” “They call him Flipper, Flipper, faster than lightning.” The opening tune from “Good Times” tortured me through most of junior high.

DR. STEEN: Have you discussed this with anyone?

ME: No. I mean, yes, jokingly, like in a ‘shitty top 40 songs that got stuck in your head’ kinda way. You know, we all get songs stuck in our head, Doc, I know that. But for the last ten years or so, they’ve been non-stop. And LOUDER. I’ll wake up in the middle of the night to take a pee and BOOM, the disc starts playing, and I’m up for hours.

DR. STEEN: Have you tried mind-calming exercises? Counting sheep, this kind of thing.

ME: I don’t think you’re hearing me, Doc. This is my counting sheep. My nervous tick. All my life, whenever I get into an uncomfortable social situation, the song starts playing on a loop, like a security blanket. It’s not a bad thing. Or, it wasn’t a bad thing in P.E. in 11th grade. But for fuck’s sake it tortures me now. It starts with a song I like and then it persists and persists and persists. Fucking Bright Eyes! “Cleanse Song,” that bit “So I muffled my scream on an Oxnard beach/Full of fever dreams that scare you sober/Into saltless dinners” lodged into my head in Sao Paulo, Christmas 2007 and stayed well into March, New York, with relapses over the last four years. “Amateurs, dilettantes, hacks, cowboys, clones/The streets groan with little Caesars, Napoleons and cunts/With their building blocks and their tiny plastic phones/Counting on their fingers, with crumbs down their fronts,” that Nick Cave song—it’s been fucking hounding me for five years. Last week it was the Sunnyboys, week before that it was Iron and Wine. Doc, I know exactly what serial killers mean when they talk about hearing voices. It’s like I’ve got a long residency hotel in my brain, and the guests all overstay their welcome. In fact I’d even say my pot addiction and now my drinking and even that whole Internet porn thing was really just a subconscious effort to turn off the FUCKING RADIO!

I pause. Stand. Address the empty theater.

ME: See, just this very conversation, just this whole, ‘Doc, you gotta help me’ scene has done it. In my head, right this second, Mick Jagger: “Dear doctor, please help me, I’m damaged/There’s a pain where there once was a heart…” And I know it ain’t leaving any time soon.

 

January 25, 2012

PIECES OF A MAN’S MEMOIR, PART 3

We entered surfing through the back door. In the mid-seventies, skateboarding was still a wave-riding surrogate. The carves, kick turns, and Berts; the attraction to banks and bowls; the way we’d duck and drag our hands under overhanging foliage—these were surf moves adapted to pavement, though we didn’t know it at the time. I’m reminded of Ralph Macchio, whose famous “wax on, wax off” strokes would later become his defensive blocks in “The Karate Kid.” Which is to say that it was all in our muscle memory, we just had to translate it to water.

We were on a family trip to Hawaii in the summer of ’78, staying at a hotel with sweeping views of Waikiki Beach. We had no idea that this was the very spot where the great Duke Kahanamoku got a mile-long ride in 1917; where Jimmy Stewart, Gary Cooper, Montgomery Clift, and Babe Ruth caught their first waves in the fifties; where, legend has it, a strapping Waikiki Beach Boy and a smitten haole (foreign) girl made love while riding tandem during a moonlight surf in the sixties. Nor did we know about Jack London’s visit in 1907, during which he became so enraptured by surfing that he called it a “royal sport for the natural kings of earth” in a now-legendary magazine article that historians cite as the seed that would later sprout Gidget, the Beach Boys, Frankie and Annette, Malibu Barbie, and all the rest. We only knew that Cousin Jeff had recently wallpapered his bedroom in surf posters, and that he raved fanatically about “hang fives” and “tube rides.”

And so it was on a bright August morning that my brothers and I rented mustard yellow soft boards from a paunchy, silver-haired beach boy who warned us to “Neva turn your back on da ocean.” We paddled out clumsily, got whacked around by even the feeblest of white wash, found it astonishingly difficult to straddle our ten-foot boards without tipping over, found it nearly impossible to align ourselves with the wave at the proper time—too soon and the swell would continue on without us, too late and we’d “pearl” (go head over heels)—and exited the water two hours later humiliated, not to mention sunburned and nipple-rashed. But we were persistent. For the next three days we surfed from dawn till dusk, and by the end of it we were up on nearly every wave.

It wasn’t the actual surfing that hooked me, but rather the way it played back in my head as I tried to fall asleep at night. The thrill of stroking, stroking, stroking then suddenly being raised up as if by some divine hand; the precarious pop from prone to feet; that giddy buzz of standing tall in a Bruce Lee fighter stance as the whitewash tickles my heels and the shimmering blue whooshes past—all of it returned in visceral detail. It was if I were under a spell; as if salt water had entered my veins.

January 23, 2012

JACK MCCOY WINS BEST DOCUMENTARY AT X-DANCE

Congratulations to Mr. McCoy! ‘A Deeper Shade of Blue,’ his opus, won Best Documentary at the X-Dance Film Festival in Salt Lake City.

Here are some shots from a recent visit to his office in Newport Beach, Sydney…

January 20, 2012

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