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There’s a bluebird in your heart

Brad Listi Archive

Brad Listi

Unsolicited Advice

August 28th, 2009
by Brad Listi

LOS ANGELES-

First things first: Be careful not to worry too much. But don’t worry too little, either, because then you might wind up with even more to worry about than you originally bargained for. And it’s important to bargain. It’s important to be frugal and exercise caution. And it’s important to exercise, too. You have to stay fit. Because if you stay fit, your mind will be sharp, and that will help you bargain well. Otherwise, you’ll get taken for a ride.

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Brad Listi

Tweet It

June 26th, 2009
by Brad Listi

LOS ANGELES-

When I heard the news about Michael Jackson yesterday, I immediately got up from my desk chair, grabbed my French bulldog, Walter, and dangled him over the balcony of my second-story apartment. The skies over Hollywood were filled with helicopters, and in the distance I could hear “Human Nature” blaring from someone’s car stereo. I let out an involuntary, guttural wail, and my whole body shook.

“Oh my god!” my wife said. “What are you doing?”

I turned around and put Walter down and felt a wave of nausea sweep over me.

“Didn’t you hear?” I said. “He’s dead. Michael Jackson…he died.”

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Brad Listi

The Listi Meat Market

June 24th, 2009
by Brad Listi

LOS ANGELES-

I have one great uncle left on my father’s side of the family: my uncle Manuel, my grandfather’s brother. Full-blooded Sicilian-American. Never married. Had a bad war experience; never talks about it. Very endearing. Always been kind to me. Wears nerd glasses. Cardigans. The quintessential sweet old man.

Avuncular.

Blood.

Manuel was a part of the Listi Meat Market. He and my grandfather and a couple of their other brothers ran a butcher shop in small-town Louisiana for more than forty years. The Listi Meat Market, they called it. No irony.

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Brad Listi

Comment Culture

May 20th, 2009
by Brad Listi

LOS ANGELES-

Just read some pretty interesting stuff on “comment culture,” which has become an area of interest over the past few years. A new mutation in the human fabric.

Naturally I’m fascinated by the comment boards on this site. I’m also fascinated by comment boards in general, and the people who populate them, and I wonder how they work, and why.

With respect to The Nervous Breakdown and its boards, I often find myself asking: What is it? And how did it happen? And what is its value? And who is it that’s drawn here? And why? And what might this weird beast become?

And things like that.

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Brad Listi

Never Say Neverland: A Michael Jackson Photo Tour

April 19th, 2009
by Brad Listi

LOS ANGELES-

Yesterday in L.A. was hot and bright. My wife and I had brunch with a friend first thing, and then afterward the three of us drove over to Beverly Hills to see Michael Jackson’s personal effects.

It’s all on display at the old Robinsons-May building. Julien’s Auctions has converted an entire floor of the empty department store into a de facto Michael Jackson museum—an eerie, unsettling assemblage that grabs the imagination and spooks the soul. More than 1,400 items, artifacts extracted from Neverland Valley Ranch, Mr. Jackson’s sprawling country estate in Santa Barbara County.

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Brad Listi

It’s Kind of Like Creative Herpes

March 2nd, 2009
by Brad Listi

LOS ANGELES-

Every writer I know has trouble writing. Joseph Heller said that once. I would echo it here. Personally I don’t know a single writer who has an easy time writing. Especially fiction. Fiction seems to be a special kind of pain in the ass. Or maybe I’m just projecting.

Another thing I would add is that a lot of writers don’t write very much. And some of them don’t write, period.

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Brad Listi

Hellish Tales from Crowded Cubicles, Etc.

February 11th, 2009
by Brad Listi

LOS ANGELES-

Seeing as everyone’s out of work these days or teetering on the brink of unemployment, I figure it might be appropriate and maybe even therapeutic to tell some tales about hellish jobs to try to soften the blow (or heighten the sense of masochistic nostalgia).

Probably a good time to sit down around the campfire and share some memorable horror stories, many of which defy belief and couldn’t be conjured by even the most fertile creative minds.

For example: I had lunch with a friend a couple of weeks ago, and he was telling me about one of his old jobs. The office he worked at was populated with exceptionally insane individuals, particularly at the executive level.

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Brad Listi

Thoughts That Occurred to Me While Simultaneously Surfing the Internet and Watching Television, Vol. II

February 5th, 2009
by Brad Listi

LOS ANGELES-

I think I smell pot.

I think my neighbor is smoking pot.

The door to the porch is open and I think I can smell pot outside.

I’m watching this Ramones documentary.

It’s called End of the Century.

Rick Rubin just said they invented a genre.

Imagine one day you wake up and all of a sudden you invent a genre.

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Brad Listi

Constipated Cyborgs: More Inappropriate Thoughts on the Writing Life

January 26th, 2009
by Brad Listi

LOS ANGELES-

The other day a friend and I decided that in order to be a writer in the modern age—or maybe any age—you essentially have to adopt the attitude of a merciless cyborg assassin. You have to approach the work and the ancillary business aspects of the work with the cold, emotionless, and utterly relentless persistence of a Skynet T-800, created by Cyberdine Systems.

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Brad Listi

Zigzag Formation

January 7th, 2009
by Brad Listi

LOS ANGELES-

In 1995 my friends Chris and Judd and I were in Australia on a semester abroad. We arrived in Sydney in July and then ventured up to Brisbane where we studied at the University of Queensland. During one stretch of the semester we flew up to Cairns to scuba dive at the Great Barrier Reef and when that was done we wound up staying at a youth hostel in the jungle in the Daintree National Rainforest. Daintree is the only rainforest in the world that directly abuts an ocean. There are saltwater crocodiles living in abundance, and they swim around in estuaries and rivers and wander through the jungle and can even be seen on the beach from time to time.

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Brad Listi

The Funniest, Most Depressing Movie Trailer of All Time

January 2nd, 2009
by Brad Listi

LOS ANGELES-

Like so many people, I watched a lotta movies over the holidays. At home. In the theater. On television. Traditionally, this is a good time at the box office. The season of award-caliber cinema.

My wife and I went to see The Curious Case of Benjamin Button last night. Technically speaking, an impressive achievement. David Fincher is an excellent director. Cate Blanchett is a world class actress with incredible bone structure. And Brad Pitt, playing—of all things—an elderly boy, gives his best performance since Fight Club.

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Brad Listi

Crazy

December 17th, 2008
by Brad Listi

LOS ANGELES-

Singing in public. You get a lot of this in Los Angeles. A lot of performers in this town. People in dire need of attention. There’s only so much of it to go around.

I was walking the dog last night on Sunset Boulevard, and we were standing at a corner waiting for the light to change. There was a guy next to me with a guitar slung over his shoulder. It was just the two of us standing there. Cars were going by. A city bus. The smells of exhaust and rain and garbage.

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Brad Listi

The World’s Most Addictive Burritos

December 10th, 2008
by Brad Listi

LOS ANGELES-

My wife was working late last night, so I decided to make dinner. I’m not a very experienced cook, but I’m generally open to experimentation. Cooking is easy, I tell myself. You just have to follow the recipe.

I sifted through some cookbooks in the kitchen trying to find something good to make. I kept reading recipes and seeing ingredients that I didn’t recognize. Things I’d never heard of before. Things that seemed too difficult. Things I wouldn’t know how to find at the grocery store.

Eventually I decided that I wanted to make burritos. Good burritos. And not only good burritos, but the best burritos on the planet. Gourmet burritos. I figured, why settle? This is the Information Age.

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Brad Listi

Notes on Being Neighborly in Los Angeles

December 8th, 2008
by Brad Listi

LOS ANGELES-

So I live in this apartment building in Los Angeles. It has an elevator. We have no yard, just a balcony. Second floor. We have to take our dog out for walks every few hours. Bathroom breaks. We walk him around the block. He does his business. His name is Walter.

It’s a three-story building. We have neighbors. We just moved in not too long ago, so we’re getting to know people. Faces are becoming familiar. You run into people in the lobby, the garage. You nod. You say hello.

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Brad Listi

The Dog-Saves-Dog Video and My Wife’s Extremely Low Animal Endangerment Emotional Threshold

December 5th, 2008
by Brad Listi

LOS ANGELES-

Maybe you’ve seen this already, the now-world-famous video of a heroic dog rescue on a highway in Chile. It’s been sweeping the Internet for the past 48 hours. A dog gets hit by a car on a busy highway and is left for dead. Another dog, in a stunning act of canine heroism, risks its life and ventures out into traffic to save his fallen friend, dragging him out of harm’s way by the scruff of his neck.

My wife watched the video yesterday and immediately started weeping. We were both at home at the time. She was in her office; I was in mine. All of a sudden I hear sniffling.

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Brad Listi

Human Burnout, Restaurant Death, & the World’s Fastest Wheelchair

November 24th, 2008
by Brad Listi

LOS ANGELES-

Driving around Los Angeles yesterday with my wife. Running errands. Sunday. We pass a pet store.

WIFE: I was in there the other day. The guy who owns it used to be a producer.

ME: I think you mean LA Dogworks, the daycare place.

WIFE: It’s the same.

ME: Same owners?

WIFE: No. Just the same situation. An ex-Hollywood guy who quit his job and started up his own pet store.

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Brad Listi

There is Nothing to See Here

November 21st, 2008
by Brad Listi

LOS ANGELES-

I went running this morning. Trying to run now. Get back into running. I want to have good stamina.

I ran up into the Hollywood Hills. Heart thundering in my chest. The Santa Ana winds were blowing. A strong wind howling in from the northeast. I was running uphill, right into it. A sunny morning. Warmer than normal.

I was listening to my iPod. This band called The Glands. One of my favorite bands from days of yore. Makes me nostalgic. It’s just this one album. Name of the album: The Glands. A self-titled release.

The Glands.

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Brad Listi

Sitting There in the Barber Chair Thinking About People Building Their Bodies

November 14th, 2008
by Brad Listi

LOS ANGELES-

I got my haircut early this morning and was talking to Janet, my, um, stylist, about the new James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace.

“It hasn’t gotten good reviews,” I said.

“I heard it was great,” she said.

“I’m going to see it this weekend.”

“It’s out already?”

“Tonight.”

“I had a guy in here earlier this week,” she said. “A film critic for a San Francisco newspaper. He liked it.”

“What’s his name?”

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Brad Listi

The Triumphant Death of Don the Bowler

October 31st, 2008
by Brad Listi

You may have read this story, the one about 62-year-old Don Doane of Ravenna, Michigan. For more than forty-five years Mr. Doane was a member of the same bowling team. Mr. Doane and his teammates competed in a local league at the local lanes over at Ravenna Bowl.

On October 16th, for the first time in his entire life, Don Doane bowled a perfect game. Strike after strike after strike after strike. He couldn’t miss. He was in The Zone. A perfect score of 300. Total glory.

And after the final pin had fallen, Don Doane raised his hands in the air in miraculous triumph. He pumped a fist. There was a huge cheer. His teammates swarmed around him in a frenzy of joyous excitement.

And then Don Doane collapsed suddenly and fell to the floor and died of a massive heart attack.

Efforts to resuscitate him failed.


 

 

This story makes me think. More specifically: It makes me think about how I sometimes think about my life. How I often sit around wondering: How is this story gonna go? What’s going to become of me? How will I fare going forward? What’s the point? Is there a point? What will happen? What will I make happen? Will things go my way? Will things not go my way? How important is luck? What should I do? What should I not do? Is everything passing me by? Am I missing opportunities? Will things take a tragic turn? Will I run the table? Will it all end well? Will it all end badly?

One wonders.

That is, if one is anything like me.

Life, inevitably, is an exercise in loss. You live long enough, and you lose everything. Every relationship ends. Everything you have goes away. You disintegrate. All of your physical gifts wither and dissipate. It’s all about loss, in the end. Acceptance of loss. The ability to handle loss with grace. The ability to lose.

Don Doane.

One of the anonymous majority. A regular man from Michigan. (I’m assuming he was regular.)

Don the Bowler.

Don is dead now. And in his death, he made quiet national news.

A perfect game.

He bowled a perfect game—his first and only perfect game—and then, suddenly, he died. Surrounded by his friends.

Everyone was wearing bowling shoes. One imagines they were all drinking beer.

It’s one of the more triumphant deaths I’ve read about in recent memory.

-BL


Brad Listi

Steamboat Willie Nelson

October 21st, 2008
by Brad Listi

LOS ANGELES-

I’ve been outta commission the past few days because I moved. My wife and I moved again. We move a lot, it seems. Hopefully we won’t move again soon. And then in addition to moving my sister is in town. My sister and her husband and their three kids. We went to Disneyland yesterday. I took the day off and drove down to Anaheim to The Happiest Place on Earth and got to witness two of my nieces as they had their first-ever Disney experience. It’s easy to bag on the sanitary perfection of Disneyland and to come up with all sorts of reasons why it’s creepy—and it is, it is, on some level it is. But on the level of, say, a three year old, it’s not really creepy at all. Watching my little niece Madison walk up to Mickey Mouse and give him a hug sort of eliminated all cynicism from the experience.

Prior to yesterday, my most recent experiences at The Magic Kingdom go back to college days, when I did the obligatory (?) get wasted and go to Disneyland as a sort of subversive practical joke. That was fun, I think. It’s fun if you think extreme social discomfort and deep fear are fun. And in some cases they are. For me, anyway.

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