For my son, my best friend

backseat

Dear Jordi;

Happy Birthday, baby boy.

You’re 21 now. I can’t really believe it. Yesterday you were running down the hallway with a bottle hanging out of your mouth. Yesterday, your favorite book was “Goodnight, Moon.”

And now, you’re a man. Old enough to vote, old enough to drink a beer at a bar, old enough to run off and join the Marines. Now you’re as big as I am, and I fear your strength. Every boy yearns for the day he can whoop his old man, and I believe you are there now. Don’t get any funny ideas, though. You might be younger and stronger, but I’m older and meaner. Say hello to Mr. Floor.

But I’m not writing this to praise you or to wish you a Happy Birthday. Rather, this blog post is my birthday gift to you.

I’ve been talking about blogging for some time. You’ve heard enough. Lately you don’t even disguise your disgust over the fact that I am a writer who does not write. I can think of a thousand reasons why I should not write a blog, why this is a waste of time, why no one will ever read it.

I detest the word “blog.” It sounds so smarmy. There’s no dignity, no honor, to it. Just blah, bug, bog, bloat, blog. When people first started committing this act, we laughed at them. “Bloggers,” indeed. A bunch of no-talent hacks who write just to see their own words on paper (or screen). No training, no professionalism. Just bloviating on a grand scale.

But that’s the game today, and it will be tomorrow and well after I am dead. The newspaper business is gone forever. I know a lot of people who still labor in the business. But it’s not the same, and never will be again. Reading a paper feels like reading your own obituary. It feels like someone walking on your grave.

These are the feelings I have had for some time. And the longer I’ve gone without writing, the more inane the whole experience seems.

But you know, you can’t win if you don’t play. If I’m a writer, I have to have some way to publish my work, even if it’s on my own website.

So this is me, trying. This is me, writing.

This is my birthday present to you, along with the hookers and blow. I give you my words and my stories.

I’m going to tell you the stories of my life, both past and present. Both fiction and nonfiction. Frankly, I have a hard time telling the difference myself anymore.

I don’t mind telling you, it’s a little scary for an old newspaperman like me. I’m used to striking a certain tone, trying not to offend, trying to maintain balance and objectivity. All that stuff is good for a general circulation newspaper, but it seems so dry and boring when you want to rattle and rile.

And then there is the question of jobs and employment. A writer has to wonder who will read his stuff, and what those readers might think. You could lose a job or even a friendship over things like this.

But I’m old now, and I really don’t give a shit. I have had good jobs and lost bad ones at this point. All I can do now is write what I want, how I want, and make my stories as honest and powerful as possible.

For that reason, I suggest no one else read this blog. Yes, it is a public thing and you might say, “Well, that’s a provocative statement, designed more to encourage people to read it than to turn them away.” Good point, if I do make it myself, but there is truth in it. I will curse often and tell bawdy tales. I will hurt someone’s feelings.

I mean no harm. But I have spent a lifetime trying not to offend. I believe I will stop that now. Because if I don’t offend anyone, I haven’t written anything worth writing.

I hope to develop a style and strategy for this blog over time. I hope it’s interesting or useful or entertaining. Mostly, I hope it entertains. I always lived with the motto, “The One Who Dies With The Most Stories, Wins.” I got a ton of them.

Of course, I could be delusional. This blog could degenerate into a rambling monologue. You might refer to it as the blog recounting “Shit my dad says.”

In that case, you can read blog post after blog post and watch a man slowly descend into madness and dementia.

And won’t that be cool?