Friday, September 06, 2002


I just remembered one of the good things that I thought when I hit rock bottom, or rather when the elevator hit P2... One of my greatest friends in the whole wide world and his lovely wife, who has also become a true friend, had their first child yesterday. A happy and healthy Henry Samuel Lazarus was born in New York City at 12:10 am on September 5th, weighing 5 pounds 19 ounces. I got some really cute pictures via email, but I'm a piker and I don't know how to put them on this site.

It is absolutely impossible for me to express the overwhelming joy I feel for David and Meg. I can only congratulate them on mating successfully and tell them I love them. And though I will not be flying cross-country to attend the briss, and thus cannot officially be named Godfather, I want little Henry to know that I now love him too and will always be there for him in any way he may need me.


As if things weren't going downhill fast enough for Piker, an avalanche of bad luck has come cascading down the proverbial mountain. The first sign that it was going to be one of those days appeared this morning when I showed up here at Piker headquarters to find that the lock had been jimmied and the door was unlocked. The only piece of furniture remaining in the office space before the break-in was my crappy faux-wood desk. Now there is nothing. Why someone would want to steal my desk is beyond me, but it happened, and I had to deal with the reality. The only thing of any debatable value in the desk was the Piker Files. They too are now gone. Thank God for the Piker archives.

Feeling victimized and at the end of my proverbial rope, which was the only thing keeping me on the proverbial mountain, I thought I was headed for a complete meltdown. But once I stopped hyperventilating and bawling, I was just happy to have my breath back. Standing in the middle of the desolate office, I decided right there and then that I was going to take advantage of the fact that I could still breathe by meditating my ass off. I sat down on the floor and attempted to get into the lotus position until I came to the painful realization that the surgically reconstructed ACL in my right knee was not going to cooperate. So I sat Indian style and concentrated on my breathing, tuning out the world until I successfully reached the Alpha state. My mind, body, and spirit were at peace. No longer did I feel stress over the monumental collapse of my prized publication. No longer did I feel violated by the vicious vandals who ripped me off. I had found serenity. Just then, a small boulder came flying through one of the large Piker windows and shattered the glass into thousands of pieces. Somehow, namely the heightened spiritual state I was in at the time, I found myself unharmed. It was as if the Universe had placed a protective forcefield around me. I picked up the large stone and read the words "Piker Go Home" in black magic marker. Another sign.

As we all know, good things and bad things, mainly bad things, come in threes. Although I didn't need yet another sign to motivate me to get the hell out of the Piker offices and never return, I got one anyway. After reading those haunting words on that rock for the hundred thousandth time, I had an urge to check the Piker bank balance. I used my cell phone to call the fine automated folks at Washington Mutual and after punching in a complex set of account numbers, passwords, and the last four digits of my social security number, I got the proverbial straw that broke the proverbial camel's proverbial back -- Piker was out of money. The account wasn't even in the negative; the balance was simply zero dollars and zero cents.

Now, the handful of you that are reading this are probably thinking that this is the end of Piker. I can assure you it is not. I am going to use these heinous events as motivation to take this blog to new heights. I know I keep saying that, but really, I am. As I was sobbing in the elevator on the way down to the parking garage, before I remembered that I don't have a car, I had one of those revelatory moments that reminded me of all the good things in my life. I can't recall what they are at the moment, but trust me, they're good. And they gave me the fortitude to carry on. So despite the best efforts of some unseen cabal hell-bent on annhilating me and everything I stand for, Piker lives on! Long live Piker! Long live Piker!

Wednesday, September 04, 2002


It's been a sweltering week here in Los Angeles. Call it a late summer heat wave. I sit here alone in the barren Piker offices, stripped down to my Bart Simpson boxers, unable to turn on the high-powered air conditioning unit because the revised budget won't allow for frivolous utilities like electric and phone.

The extreme temperature has me in a pensive mood, reflecting on the past week. Before the weekend started, I had a solid couple days of disillusionment. First, it was the past. Nearly a month after I started reading, I finally completed James Ellroy's "The Cold Six Thousand." The novel is the middle installment of an ambitious trilogy, the first of which I did not read and the last of which, to the best of my knowledge, has not been written yet. The story spans a roughly five year period from late 1963 to 1968 and follows the lives of three underworld figures, all of whom, directly or indirectly, play roles in the assassinations of JFK, RFK, and MLK. The Cold Six is a hard brew to swallow, in part because you can't fathom that our country, even in one of its darkest hours, could possibly operate in such a way, and in part because you know it did. There is simply too much detail in the book to even begin to dissect the intricacies of the characters and plot, but suffice it to say that moments after I read the last word, I fell into a fairly deep funk. I don't think I actually enjoyed reading it, and I'm not sure you're supposed to, but I know I couldn't get it out of my mind. It plagued me. And then I watched the Video Music Awards.

After suffering through three plus hours of pop culture torture, my fairly deep funk devolved into flat out depression. Now, I haven't watched MTV in quite some time, and I suppose I'm old, but apparently drunk and stupid is in. I may be overly nostalgiac for the musical era including the mid-sixties to the early nineties, but I remember my rock stars being drunk and stoned, yet witty and irreverant. The audience got a taste of that when Diamond Dave and Sammy Hagar presented an award and bantered for a bit, but they didn't seem to like the flavor, as nobody so much as chuckled. I'm astounded to report that the true highlight of the show was Justin Timberlake's debut solo performance. That kid can dance and the moment actually felt like something, which was more than I can say for the rest of the show. It was a whole lot of nothing. There were many lowlights, but I'll just mention a couple. Pink accepting her award and declaring that she was so drunk was one thing, but Michelle Branch, a sort of goody-goody in this crowd, accepting her award and claiming to be more drunk than Pink was like a kick in the stomach. Branch proceeded to soberly thank everyone from her record company to her entourage to her family and seemed genuine in doing so. Why did she have to say she was fucked up? She clearly wasn't and it felt like a desperate attempt for the good girl to fit in with the cool crowd, when she could have nobly distanced herself from the idiocy surrouding her. Painful. As was the far-from-triumphant return of Guns-n-Roses. Axl Rose is fat and can't sing anymore and the band sounded like shit. They were the closing act.

Luckily, that night, I only took one pain killer and not the entire bottle, because I wound up having a fantastic weekend hanging out with a variety of phenomenal people at several Labor Day events and it helped restore all of my illusions to their proper levels.

Tuesday, September 03, 2002


Today was a tough day. Got back to the Piker offices after the long holiday weekend and was all alone. No one to share my stories with. No one to shoot the shit with around the water cooler. As a matter of fact, the water cooler was one of the few remaining items left here in the office and Arrowhead sent a guy to retrieve it today. So I talked to him for a few minutes as he was hauling away the equipment, but you can’t really count that as water cooler talk, per se.

This morning, I came into work pretty gung ho. I woke up at a decent hour, ran five miles, and had a solid breakfast. After all, this was to be the first day of a new era for Piker. But, it’s extremely difficult to generate ideas for new directions and new elements without a staff. I couldn’t have any meetings – no creative meetings, no budget meetings, no sexual harassment seminars. And I really wanted to have some damn meetings. Even if, at the very least, the purpose of the meetings was to shoot down everyone else’s crappy ideas and railroad my own. So, in lieu of meetings, you’d think I would hit the phones. That would be the case, if I had phones. Apparently, someone in operations didn’t pay the bill. I suppose after I fired everyone, or everyone quit when I went AWOL, whatever, I then became the new operations person. Fine. I screwed up. No phones. No people. No meetings. No business.

So I went home and did some laundry while watching a pretty good day of U.S. Open tennis. Last night was an amazing night of tennis, a confluence of the world’s best players playing on the same night due to almost two full days of rain. There was Pistol Pete Sampras winning a tough five-setter against that Canadian/Brit confused accent sore loser Greg Rusedski; the indefatigable 32 year-old Andre Agassi dominating the much younger American Jan-Michael Gambill in straight sets; Tommy Haas, the current most controversial player on the men’s tour, outlasting the pesky Swede Thomas Enqvist in five sets. And then, you had the most exciting thing to happen to tennis in a long time, Andy Roddick, outdueling Spanish veteran Alex Corretja, the sleek and adorable Daniela Hantuchova upsetting Justin Henin, plus victories by Jennifer Capriati, Lindsey Davenport, and world number one Lleyton Hewitt. I’ve always loved the U.S. Open -- night matches under the lights with that rowdy New York crowd… I can’t get enough.

Andy Roddick just defeated Juan Ignacio Chela in four sets to move through to the quarterfinals. At one point in the match, Roddick appeared to have a bad foot injury. Chela tried to take advantage of it by running him around the court, which opened the door for the just-turned-20 years old Roddick to produce some of the most exciting points of the tournament and get the crowd into it. As a matter of fact, after Roddick won the best point of the match, he got into the crowd, high-fiving a bunch of people in the expensive seats. Now the grizzled Pistol Pete is trying to take down the hot-shot Haas to set up an All-American quarterfinal against young Roddick. I’ve got to go watch.

Following tennis tonight, I will most definitely be watching the finale of American Idol. I honestly don’t care who wins between Justin Guarini and Kelly Clarkson. I think they should both do musical theater after this whole circus ends. The real pop star in this competition, Tamyra Gray, was unceremoniously booted out by the idiotic American public, who thought Nikki McKibbin actually had more star quality. I’ll tell you what she had more of… stretch marks! Now, I don’t think having stretch marks should prevent the girl from winning, I’m not that crass. But wearing a shirt that bared her midriff with full knowledge of said stretch marks should have disqualified her instantly. One other more-deserving performer, Christina Christian, was voted out when Nikki should have been, and it really caused me to dislike the girl. I know it really wasn’t her fault that a viewing audience of complete morons kept voted her through, but I blamed her and tuned in each week hoping against hope that she’d finally get what was coming to her. Now she’s gone and we’re left with Justin and Kelly as the final two, and I’m stuck having nothing to root for and nothing to root against. So, in order for me to get satisfaction out of the conclusion of this prolonged “talent” show, my dream finale must include a diatribe by Simon Cowell, the acerbic judge who is easily the best thing to come out of the show, putting the no-talent co-host monkeys Ryan Seacrest and Brian Dunkleman in their places once and for all. Odds are that I won’t get my wish. But, despite my previously-stated aversion to gambling, you can bet the farm that I’ll be watching tonight and tomorrow night as this addictive train wreck of a show comes to an end.

Tomorrow will be the beginning of a new era in Piker history. I’m determined to make something of this blog and make something of my life. First, I’m going to go make myself a sandwich.