Friday, December 21, 2012

An Early Christmas Present

Back in September my brother & I received the following email from my little sister, a sophomore in college:

SUBJECT: Very early Christmas present

I'm only asking this early because it's kind of a necessity...

Would you guys want to get me a fake ID for Christmas? A lot of people I know order them online but they can be kind of expensive, like $100-$150. I can't find any Asian that can give me their ID.

As an older brother this immediately struck me as a teaching opportunity. My response:

No. I am not giving you a fake ID for Christmas. It is not a "necessity." I, as well as millions of others, have had immense amounts of underage fun at school without a fake ID.

Why do you need a fake ID? For bars, to buy alcohol? Why do you need to go to bars as a sophomore? You can go to tons of bars the rest of your life. Enjoy house parties. You should be able to get alcohol from anyone. Other people have fakes & can buy you stuff.

If you want one, find it on your own -- like I did. And the reason you cannot find any Asian to give you their ID is because you're too white-washed. Go find some Asian friends to mix up your crowd a bit.

Obtaining a fake ID is part of your growth as a person. Figure it out.

As you can see, as an older brother this also immediately struck me as an opportunity to be a condescending jerk. (Hence, why I'm now blogging about this.)

It's pretty funny & refreshing to have a younger sister who's experiencing college exactly 10 years after I did. Things just never change.

My first fake ID was secured from a gentleman in the Theta Chi fraternity. He made Ohio licenses. I was from Cleveland. I got my ID during the second semester of my freshman year. Three other friends & I all got Ohio IDs because we were going on a road trip to New Orleans for spring break. (Oh, spring break. Haven't had one of those in over 7 years.) Surprisingly, the ID in 2002 also cost $100. It's good to know that inflation hasn't affected the fake ID market.

The Ohio ID was of immense value to my friends & I back home in Rochester, MI. I used it to procure a lot of kegs from Harry's, a shady liquor store in Pontiac. They never questioned why an Ohioan was buying alcohol in Pontiac all summer long. They probably thought I was a student at Oakland University.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. That ID was taken away from me at Scorekeepers during my sophomore year. I was pretty angry at how I lost it. Everyone knows Skeeps is the underage bar of choice in Ann Arbor. Just show up around 9pm before the cops are at the door with basically a library card, and they'd let you in. I went with Roommate #2, who had the exact same fake, but with his own picture and different address & age info. He was in line directly in front of me, and he was allowed in. I then showed my ID, and they told me it was a fake & confiscated it. Such a deflating moment. Bastards!

My second fake ID was actually a real Michigan driver's license I borrowed from a former roommate, also a gentleman of the Theta Chi fraternity. He is Colombian, and since people thought I looked Mexican, I figured it would work. At the time, I thought we looked very similar. He is Colombian, I am Filipino. He had regular-length hair, I buzzed my hair. His eyes were much rounder than mine. We actually looked nothing alike. In retrospect, it's amazing to think about the bullshit you talk yourself into.

I used this during my summer internship with the HGOC in Los Angeles in 2004. Surprisingly, this ID worked like magic at the local convenience store. No questions asked. We had a steady supply of beer at the Good Nite Inn in Calabasas all summer long. (Yes. We stayed at a motel all summer because it was right across the street from work and just a few blocks from our gym. Plus, we got our rooms cleaned every day.)

I never tried that Michigan license at a bar because HGOC didn't have a fake. No point in risking confiscation for a solo trip to the bar. I returned that ID to my friend when I arrived back in Ann Arbor that August. I was turning 21 during Welcome Week and no longer had a need for my Colombian identity.

From that point on, it was the real Dirty Burrito buying alcohol. It was nice & easy, but it just wasn't the same.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Election Day Thoughts

What might happen if you vote for Mitt Romney:

And if you vote for Obama, the knight will be kind:

But in all seriousness, go rock the vote. Or vote or die. Or whatever Diddy is telling the kids these days.

Monday, October 15, 2012

We Didn't Start the Fire

Billy knows we didn't start the fire
When I lived in NY, every once in a while one of my roommates or I would set off the smoke detector in the apartment while cooking. These were never serious situations. Sometimes it just got really smokey and because apartments are so small, it's really not that difficult to set off the smoke detector.

If it ever happened, it was really simple to turn off. Using a magazine to fan the smoke away from the smoke detector usually worked, but if that wasn't enough I could open my windows and/or the front door and turn on a fan. It never took more than 20-30 seconds to stop the alarm. I also had the option to hop on a chair, unscrew the smoke detector, and remove the battery. But I could only do this if my ceiling was low enough, so I really just had the first method mastered.

Unfortunately, neither of these options worked for me on Saturday night. Sanrio was over at my place because I was cooking dinner. Old Guy had given me some pretty good recipes for some veggie sides that went along with some hanger steak, so I decided to give them a shot. The veggies were pretty simple to prep & cook, but I had never cooked hanger steak. I usually broil my steaks in the oven, but Epicurious told me to fry them in a pan on high heat with a little oil. No big deal...

Until my smoke detectors started going off.

It wasn't really that big of a situation at first, though the noise was much louder than typical fire alarms. Sanrio & I just took some magazines & started fanning the smoke furiously. Unfortunately, that wasn't working. The next step would be to open the windows, but I can't open windows in my apartment. It's a historical building in Philly, and the property management company isn't allowed to change it unless they go through a long & expensive approval process to change the windows on a 12-story building. So, I opened my front door and turned on a couple of fans.

About a minute or two had gone by, and I'm now starting to panic a little. These two extremely loud alarms are blaring, and my carbon monoxide detector started to go off as well. I was worried my neighbors were going to come by and complain. I decided to try removing the battery from the smoke detectors. To my absolute dismay, I found out both were connected directly to the electrical wiring in the building. There were no batteries to remove.

At this point, I am out of options. Before I could even formulate a plan of attack, I heard something terrible. It was the building's fire alarm. The smoke that I had been ushering into the hallway had been detected by the building's system. Not only are my two smoke detectors & carbon monoxide detector blaring, but the building fire alarm is going off. And it's not just an alarm. It's rattling off a recorded message for all tenants to find the nearest staircase & vacate the building. Fucking awesome. (Side note: You may be thinking, "What a dumbass. Of course the building fire alarm would go off." Well, no. It's not obvious. Please remember I was living in pre-war, walk-up buildings in NY. They are quaint & charming. Brokers don't even tell you which war it was "pre." Could've been the Spanish-American War for all I know, so these building alarms are something I never even associated with apartment complexes.)

Forget my neighbors on my floor, I've now caused an evacuation of my entire 12-story building. Sweet. I tried some last ditch fanning of the smoke (as if it was going to help), then decided to go downstairs. A few floors below me, I heard some kids (they looked like college students) asking if this was for real. I had to speak up. There was a girl there in her robe going down the stairs, and it's not like there was an emergency. So, I had to tell them it was my fault and there's no emergency. And in order for them to believe me, I had to tell them the shortened version of the story: "I was cooking, and I created too much smoke because I suck. Go back to your apartments."

As I'm descending the staircase, a couple other embarrassing points dawned on me:
  1. I'm going to have to face everyone in my building who had to evacuate.
  2. There's a steakhouse that occupies the second floor of my building. I probably caused an evacuation of the steakhouse.

I got to my lobby, where a crowd was gathered because they didn't want to wait on the sidewalk, and saw the firetruck already in front of my building. At least, they're fast. I walked out my front door, and I saw everyone from the steakhouse on the street. Yikes!

At that point, I found the doorman and told him what happened. Of course, I was trying to speak quietly so no one in the lobby would hear, but that was pointless. They got one of the firemen on the ground to radio up to the firemen who already ascended the building. One of them came down to get me to go to my apartment to do a check of the place. I went up with the fireman that came for me, and everyone was looking at me as I walked with the fireman. No hiding whose fault it was.

We got up to my apartment, and there were two other firemen in front of my door. They were actually about to break down the door, so it's a good thing I caught them when I did.

We went in, and they started inspecting the place. Inevitably, they asked what I was doing. I had to tell them the short story again. They looked at me like I was an idiot. They couldn't believe they got dressed for this crap. (They also couldn't believe that I am unable to open my windows or shut off my smoke detectors.)

On their way out, they told me to just turn on my A/C to suck the smoke out of my apartment. After about five more minutes of annoying alarms, that trick was able to shut down all of the various blaring noises in my apartment. At least I know they work.

If you're interested to know what happened with the steak, I finished broiling it in the oven. It ended up a perfect medium rare & tasted delicious. Broiling did not cause any smoking whatsoever. The lesson in all this -- fuck Epicurious.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hail to the Walmart Wolverines

Everyone looks sexy in maize & blue
If you're unfamiliar with a Walmart Wolverine, look no further than this Tumblr & Urban Dictionary entry. This term is often used to degrade my alma mater, mostly by fans of the Michigan State Spartans, though it's pretty safe to assume that some fans of THE Ohio State University probably also use it but not quite to the same degree. It's probably because THE Ohio State University doesn't have a little brother syndrome. There's no need to resort to petty name calling between two great, successful programs.

As I was saying, I often see our in-state rivals making fun of the University of Michigan because of these Walmart Wolverines. If you were completely oblivious about the collegiate sporting scene and stumbled upon some of the vitriol directed at Michigan, you'd probably walk away thinking it was heresy to root for a school that you didn't attend. You'd also probably think it was shameful for the school to have these specific types of fans, many of whom have rather questionable fashion choices and are probably close to developing type 2 diabetes, rooting for it.

I'm not immersed in Spartan culture, so I can't really speak to the origins of the Walmart Wolverine. What I do know is that every autumn my News Feed gets clogged with derogatory references to Walmart Wolverines, particularly around the time of the annual in-state match-up, if we suffer a loss, or if we get invited to a better bowl game (see 2012 Sugar Bowl). Example: "At least we don't have trashy Walmart Wolverines!" [insert link to Walmart Wolverines Tumblr or post picture of Walmart Wolverine taken from Walmart Wolverines Tumblr]

I personally don't understand why people would think we're hurt by being associated with these fans. They put on the maize & blue before buying their ultra-discounted milk, back-to-school supplies, and firearms because they want to look sexy & successful. Nothing trashy about that. I cannot see anything wrong with wanting to be associated with something iconic (see Exhibit A) and awesome (see Exhibit B).

Exhibit A

Exhibit B 

Friday, August 24, 2012

LL Cool J Will Knock You Out

If you think LL Cool J worked out just to look fine and get some pretty ladies, then you are sorely mistaken. All those years of endless training finally paid off when he successfully defended his home from a burglar earlier this week.

According to the report, the intruder "suffered a broken nose, jaw and ribs when he encountered the muscular rapper-actor" inside his home. I couldn't have described him any better. He also happens to be the David Robinson of rapping-acting. The man hasn't aged since 1985.

This wasn't just some run of the mill Lindsay Lohan style of burglar. The suspect was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in 1988. I don't care if he was 56 and homeless. He already had a track record for killing.

But this didn't phase LL. He plays Special Agent and former Navy SEAL Sam Hanna on NCIS: Los Angeles. He just remembered his skills and jumped into action. Also, Chris O'Donnell is his co-star. He wouldn't have felt all that awesome if he had to go to work and tell Robin he got his ass kicked by a 56-year-old burglar.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Haircuts & Highways

A long, long time ago in my early 20s, HGOC once told me that he would know he's in a mid-life crisis once his wife decides to get one of those short haircuts. You know what I'm talking about. I suppose at a certain point in time, women simply (or maybe agonizingly) decide that long locks no longer work and do away with them.

Admittedly, I laughed at this statement, but not because I was laughing at the hairstyles of middle-aged women. I laughed at how accurate it was. At that point I flashed back to of all the short female haircuts I had ever seen in my life and who they belonged to. My friend's observation was spot on. It wasn't something I had ever thought about until that point, but why would I?

The reason this exchange has come to mind is because I've been noticing something that middle-aged men do. Women may disagree with me, but from a male perspective I would consider this thing to be an indicator of a mid-life crisis, or at least that your life has become utterly boring. (Side note: maybe those two things are one in the same...)

So, what is this potential mid-life crisis indicator? The commute conversation.

You've definitely heard your fathers engage in this conversation with the other men at some sort of gathering with friends or family, or maybe you've even heard co-workers or clients do it at meetings or dinners. They start talking about where they work and where they live, then the conversation inevitably turns to how they commute between the two places.

The formula for this conversation is pretty uniform across the board. You talk about which freeway you take (I-95, US-23, I-696 etc.), the direction you take it (North, South, East, West), which exit you use (Exit 69 Big Beaver Road -- yes this is a real exit in Michigan), and you name a landmark because some people in the conversation will stare at you blankly because they are lost and you'll need to help them get their bearings (there's a Hooters & Home Depot right at the corner after you exit).

I've heard this conversation go down hundreds of times, but only in the past couple of years has hearing it brought me to this stark realization: I have no way of avoiding this fate. Throughout my 20s, I thought my life was going to be a never-ending party. But as I near the final stages of this glorious decade of life, I'm realizing that I'm going to be old one day, and it is going to suck.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What Do You Do?

There's a scene in the most recent Jason Segel romantic comedy, The Five-Year Engagement, where Segel's character is at a party with his fiancee, and he is meeting all of her new colleagues in the pyschology department at the University of Michigan. There is a sequence of about three introductions where basically the same thing happens: he says he's a chef, and the other person says something to the effect of "so it's like Top Chef?"

This scenario totally resonated with me. Whenever I meet new people, which has happened a lot since moving to Philly in January, 95% of the time they'll ask me what I do. Let me just put this out there. I fucking hate when this happens.

Most people ask this question within the first minute of conversation. The dialogue will go something like this:
  • Statement 1: Hi. Nice to meet you.
  • Statement 2: Where did you move from?
  • Statement 3: What do you do?

Can't they ask something else? Why do they want to know what I do? Granted, most people I meet are grad students, either from med school at Temple or b-school at Wharton, so I think some of them may actually be interested in what I do. Actually, these are the only people I meet since the only two people I know in Philly go to those schools. And just to be clear, it's not just Philly grad students who are guilty. It's all of mankind.

In any case, I'm grateful for meeting these new people, but I really do despise when conversation goes down this path. I sometimes fall into the trap of asking the question, and I hate myself for it because I know I don't give a shit about the answer 90% of the time. I'd love for all of us to get a bit more interesting with our conversations.

To that end, I'm going to start changing it up. I'll start asking people to tell me one random interesting thing about themselves or what their very first concert was. Yeah -- it'll be out of the blue, and it'll probably be really strange, but at least it'll be more captivating than hearing that someone is a consultant/banker (or was a research assistant, in the case of med school students). And if they don't want to talk to me after that because I was too weird for them or they found me boring, then I'll be cool with that. At least I'll remember Max from Randomville, Kentucky, saw Rammstein for his first concert and that it was the most harrowing experience of his life.

Now, back to the main reason I hate this question and why I told this Jason Segel story. I work in advertising. It sucks. But I bet you can guess what people ask me when I tell them I work in the industry. It goes something like this (my thoughts in parantheses):
  • Response 1: Oh that's cool. (No, not cool at all)
  • Response 2: So, it's like Mad Men? (lak;jdlfjalsk;dfja;ldsfjakla;klf!!!!!)
  • Response 3: You're like Don Draper. (see comment to Response 2 above)

I'm not a (complete) jerk, so I'm polite & go along with it by telling them I guess it's a little like Mad Men but my role is more like Pete Campbell but not a smug prick. (I'm also polite because if I anger these people, I basically have no friends.)

I really want to tell people that my job is not at all like the show. It's 2012, not the 1960s. I have a laptop & a mobile device for work, so I can basically be reached all the g-damn time. Because of that, I can't escape for three-martini lunches. I sit through meetings all day, so I can't do any actual work until 5pm. I can't hide in my office, smoke & sleep on my couch for a few hours. Those cool ads you remember that you associate with advertising -- that's like 1% of the industry. Most of the work is not that spectacular. Not everyone works on Nike, and not everyone is spitting out "1984" or a 90's Budweiser ad. There isn't a plethora of hot secretaries I can degrade or sleep with. So no, it's not at all like Mad Men.

In fact, it's more like this:

Thursday, January 19, 2012

See Ya, NYC

I wrote a post entitled "My First New York" almost three years ago. It was inspired by a New York magazine feature about transplants and their first experiences in this city.

What is most striking to me about this post is how long ago I wrote it. I honestly feel like I just posted that entry a few months ago. It's actually been almost three years since I posted it, meaning I've lived in NYC for almost six years, which is four years longer than I initially intended to live here. Time really does fly when you're having fun... Or, it could be from working too hard and drinking too much.

In any case, this is most likely my last entry as a NYC resident. I don't think it's possible to write a "My Last New York" entry because that seems stupid, but maybe I'll indulge you with another story from my early days here.

That first autumn I lived here, I was renting a windowless bedroom at 441 East 9th Street. It was a classic "first" NYC apartment. I found it on Craigslist and lived with two other random people who I rarely ever saw. I hated seeing the female roommate because she was weird, and I suspected she was the cause of the apartment's strange scent. Because my room was windowless, it actually stayed pretty much the same temperature no matter what the weather was like outside. I didn't even need a comforter until after I moved out. The downside was I'd wake up and never know what time of the day it was. The bathroom was arranged in such a way that if you sat down on the toilet, my knees were basically touching the sink. Despite all of this, I wasn't complaining. I was living in the heart of the East Village for the grand price of $800 per month, including all utilities!

Anyway, that same autumn, Roommate #2 had just moved to the city to start law school at NYU. We were interested in going out somewhere we'd never visited before. We decided to venture to a faraway land called Williamsburg. I remember that it was the exact same night the Tigers lost the World Series to the Cardinals because I was considering not going out. I was too bummed that the Tigers just got swept, but he talked me into keeping our plans. We had already been emailing each other all day with potential bars to visit. We Googled all the hottest Williamsburg recommendations, and he bought a Williamsburg version of the NFT. (Laugh all you want, but this was before Yelp, before we had smartphones and before we knew anyone that lived in Williamsburg.) Plus, everyone we had tried to corral into going with us flaked. Apparently, going to Williamsburg is "too far."

We pressed on with our trip, making stops at Pete's Candy Store, Royal Oak and Union Pool. We met our first real hipsters at Pete's, drank our first $5 pony beer+whiskey shot combo at Royal Oak and had no idea how we even got to Union Pool (there was an outdoor back section?!). In between stops, we hid in dimly lit corners to look at our Williamsburg NFT. We had no idea how to get around the neighborhood, and we were too ashamed to let people see us looking at the NFT for recommendations and directions. Those Brooklyn hipsters are intimidating.

In the end, we had an amazing time and got amazingly intoxicated. Despite praising all that the neighborhood had to offer to my Manhattan friends, they just responded with a skeptical glare and an expression that screamed, "as if." I would come to find that this is not an uncommon reaction when trying to spout the benefits of hanging out -- for real, and not ironically -- in Williamsburg.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Rapping Up the Week

It's the end of the first work week of 2012, and I haven't posted in quite some time. I figured sharing some light-hearted banter between me & my friend, Milan, would be amusing on this Friday.

Here is the unedited transcript of our conversation from last year. I realize this may not be one of the most intelligent things I've ever posted here, but just roll with me. There's a great theme, possibly even inspiration for some sort of drinking game.

Milan: yeah, well I'm sure we can meet for lunch or dinner or dancing
The Dirty Burrito: mos def
M: good usage with a double meaning of rapper's name
TDB: he's the easiest one
M: or should I say your usage of rapper's name is fabulus
TDB: Fabolous
your misspelling was Ludacris
M: saying Fabolous and Ludacris is kinda a tongue Twista
i can't top that
M: yes you can
TDB: i can't
it's 4:30
my mind is gone
M: you just have to use the right Method man, roll your tongue off the back of your teeth
TDB: Now my face is all red man, from you embarrassing me
M: You Dirty Ole Bastard, your face is red because you're thinkin about your gf
TDB: Are you Pharrell? You just messed up Ol' Dirty Bastard's name!
M: I got excited and typed it backwards because I just found a deal on the internet. The new Justin Bieber CD for only 50 Cent
TDB: What do you think is Bieber's favorite Eminem color?
M: I heard he isn't into candy. He only likes cold treats, he eats one ice cube at a time.
TDB: Makes sense. He's cold as ice. He rose up through the ranks and certainly knows how to play The Game

I won't hold it against you if you decide never to return to The Dirty Burrito. Happy weekend!