Tag Archives: Bill

It’s playoffs

I was hanging out at my friend Bill’s place last weekend, we were sitting on the couch drinking some beers and watching a baseball game. It had been like half an hour already, and I was getting pretty bored. We hadn’t said anything to each other in a while, we were just kind of sitting there, I was on my phone, but not doing anything, just swiping from app to app, hoping that something interesting would pop up on the screen. Once that got to be unbearable, I tried breaking the silence.

Boston Red Sox v Baltimore Orioles

“Since when do you watch baseball?” I asked him.

“I don’t really follow it, but it’s playoffs,” he said.

“Yeah?” I was trying to say, so? Really? But I didn’t want to jump straight to being a jerk. But Bill didn’t get what I was going for, and so he just responded back, “Yep.”

And so we kept sitting there, watching this baseball game. For a while I actually tried to follow along, but it was like reading a textbook. A really big, old, dusty, dry, boring textbook, and the cover has all of this gross film all over it, I’m guessing from years of disuse, and when I open it, I find out that it’s in Finnish. It’s like, back to baseball, I had no foundational knowledge of what was going on, I wasn’t attached to either of the teams playing, so it’s not like I could at least get behind any of that false hometown pride enthusiasm. Maybe ten minutes later, I started prodding Bill again.

“So which team are you rooting for?” I asked him.

“Baltimore,” he told me.

“Oh yeah? Baltimore? Why?”

“What do you mean?” he took his eyes off the screen and gave me a sideways look.

“What do I mean? Why did you pick Baltimore? Why not the other team?”

And there was a pause of maybe a second or two, and then he said, “I don’t know, I just like Baltimore.” Then there was another pause, then he added, “And one of my roommates from college was from Baltimore.” He threw that in there, like clearly he’d been thinking of it, ever since I asked him, why was he rooting for Baltimore? And even though it seemed clearly pretty forced, at least from my end, Bill sounded satisfied that at least he had something. At first he said he didn’t know, but then he took it back, because he did know, and apparently it had something to do with an old roommate.

“I don’t know,” I told him. “I’m not really convinced.”

“What aren’t you convinced of?”

“I mean, I’m convinced that you’re rooting for Baltimore. I mean, you said it. I guess I shouldn’t have said convinced. That doesn’t really need much convincing. I guess I should have said that I don’t get it.”

“Well,” Bill said, he wasn’t looking like he was annoyed, and I get that, I would have been totally annoyed if Bill were over my house and I was watching something that he didn’t get, and he kept asking me questions about why I was watching what I was watching, “I don’t understand what’s to get.”

“It’s just that,” even knowing that I was on the verge of needling, I couldn’t stop myself, “you say you’re not into baseball, fine, your old roommate is from Baltimore, that’s great, I just don’t get the appeal of sitting in front of a game that you’re obviously not interested in, largely because of … because of what? Because of a third-hand connection to the city of Baltimore?”

Now he looked like he was getting annoyed. And as soon as I saw that annoyed look on his face, I got a little pissed off at myself. Because I knew it was coming. If I kept questioning him, of course he was going to get even more annoyed. But I kept doing it anyway. It was like I couldn’t help myself. Bill didn’t say anything, so I tried to ease off the gas a little, maybe take back some of what I had said.

“I’m just saying,” I said, “you’re not into baseball, right?”

“Right,” he was still annoyed, “but it’s playoffs, man.”

“And what does that have to do with anything?” I asked, maybe a little more confrontational than I’d have liked.

“It’s playoffs. It’s exciting.”

“Dude,” I said, “we’re sitting here on the couch in silence. I’m not excited, and I’ve seen you excited before, this isn’t it, OK, and this doesn’t feel exciting.”

“Whatever,” he turned back toward the TV, “what do you want to do?”

I said, “Well, do you still have your XBOX Live subscription?”

“Yeah,” he said.

“Well,” I said, “do you want to play?”

“After the game,” he said.


There were still like five innings left. And every time there was a commercial break, the TV station kept showing the same commercials advertising back-to-back reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond weekdays at seven. There was nothing to do on my phone. After an hour, I yawned and said that I was tired, that I was going to go home.

“All right man,” he said, “I’ll see you around.”

And then I got back to my house and it was even more boring that over at Bill’s. My XBOX was stolen like two years ago, and I’d never bothered to get a new one. And there wasn’t anything on TV. I kept flipping through the channels, just to see if this baseball game would ever end. But it was still on. It went into extra innings. I fell asleep on the couch and woke up sometime in the middle of the night with a huge pain in my neck.

One hundred happy days: day one

I’m really trying to get into that whole one hundred days of happiness thing that I see all of my friends doing on Facebook. Everyone just,looks so genuinely happy. Like my friend Bill had a photo up the other day, it was of him holding a movie ticket, and he wrote, “Just had a great time at the movies! #daysix #100happydays.”


And so I was like, that’s cool, I want in. So I went to the movie theater, and I really wanted to see that movie where Scarlett Johansen is that alien, where she goes around a kidnaps people. But I couldn’t remember what the name of the movie was, so when I got to the ticket machine, I just bought a ticket for the first Scarlett Johansen movie that I saw. And it wasn’t the right movie, this one was all about her getting super brain powers, and Morgan Freeman was in it. I tried taking a photo of the ticket stub anyway, but why would I lie about being happy if I was anything but?

No, if I was going to do this, I was going to do it right, from day one. And so the next day I was online and one of my coworkers put on Instagram this picture of a burrito: “nomnomnom so happy, me so happy, #daythirtyfive #100 …” you get the point, right? So I was like, yeah, burritos sound awesome, like just what I need to kick-start these next hundred days.

When I went to the Mexican place by my house though, I don’t know if the guy was messing me though, because I asked him, “Hey listen man, can I get no rice on that burrito? Just, yeah, pork is cool, I like spicy, but please, no rice.” And he was like, “You got it boss.” But then when I went home, I took the burrito out of the bag and knew something was wrong right away, just holding it in my hand, it felt way too light, like very airy. I knew there had to have been rice in there.

And yeah, it was like all rice. I took a bite, I took another bite, hoping that maybe there was just a little rice, maybe just unevenly distributed, concentrated right in that one bite. But no, I unwrapped it after a third bite and it was like ninety percent rice, five percent iceberg letter, four percent tortilla, and then trace elements of pork and salsa.

Whatever, I wasn’t going to go back and get in this guy’s face, OK, I didn’t want to get banned from the Mexican place or anything. But I wasn’t happy about it. I tried getting over it, just watching some TV, relaxing on the couch, but I couldn’t get happy. I looked up online, “How to force yourself to be happy,” and the first thing that came up was, “Why don’t you try smiling? Often times, if you smile, even if you’re not happy, the muscles in your mouth signal your brain to start releasing endorphins!”

And so, yeah, I gave it a shot, I started smiling, I don’t know how long I was supposed to hold it for though, but after like a minute, a minute in a half, I definitely wasn’t any happier, and the sides of my face started to hurt. Two days, two decidedly unhappy days. I resolved to commit to the first day of happiness starting the next day.

I woke up and checked my Twitter feed, and one of the Internet celebrities that I follow had a picture of a glass of wine, the same day twelve hashtag, the same one hundred days of blah, blah, blah. I was just about to give up on the whole thing, but then I thought, well, why not? I was off for the whole day. Why not kick back with a glass of wine? It might be just the thing to get the happiness started.

So I opened a bottle of wine, and then I had a couple of beers, and then at some point my friend Bill came over and things got a little fuzzy after that. But it must have worked, because when I came to the next day, I checked out my news feed, and there it was, it was me. I had taken all of these selfies, and I kept writing about how happy I was, “Look at me!” my status update said, “Day 100! I did it!”

And I’m telling you, I got like close to sixty likes. “So happy for you Rob #100days!” random people that I hadn’t talked to in years were congratulating me on a job well done. And why correct them? I definitely felt happier. It totally worked. I just had to get over myself, get past my hang-ups and let loose. I can’t recommend it enough. To anybody on the fence, just take the plunge, OK, don’t even second-guess yourself. Just be happy for a hundred days. OK? It’s awesome. #Happy.

30 awesome things to do in Astoria, Queens

1. Hanging out at my friend Bill’s place, drinking beer and playing Call of Duty online multiplayer until like two in the morning.


2. At like two or two-thirty, throwing out the question, “Do you want to get something to eat?” before opening up the Seamless App and realizing that all of the restaurants that you want to buy food from closed at like ten.

3. Remembering, wait a second, Bel Aire diner on 21st Street is open 24 hours. Let’s just order from there.

4. You realize that you really want a burger and fries, but doesn’t diner food always taste a little weird in a take-out container? Not weird, bad necessarily, but not great, not like sitting at the diner, getting a fresh burger. It’s the fries, yeah, they’ve got to be crisp. They can’t sit there steaming in a to-go container, everything gets all soggy. Rhe lettuce and tomato on the burger, that gets soggy too. You guys are really stoned and this food should at least hit some of the right buttons.

5. Bill says, “Let’s just go to the diner. I mean, it’s open all night.” And you’re like, “Yeah, that’s a good idea. Let’s do it.”

6. And then you sit around for like two more hours, playing some more video games, but your fingers hurt, you’ve lost that video game spark, and you’re just kind of mindlessly moving through the maps, not really making any contribution to the team kill count, passing Bill’s little pipe back and forth.

7. It’s the same with the pot. It’s like, smoke all you want, at this point in the night it’s not doing anything, you’re not getting any higher. It’s just making that metallic taste in the sides of your mouth more pronounced.

8. You’re like, “Hey Bill, weren’t we going to go to the diner?”

9. And at this point, you don’t even want to go anymore. It’s close to four-thirty, the sooner you get to bed, the sooner you can get up tomorrow and start nursing that buzzing hangover already starting to give birth at the sides of your head, the one that’ll insist on you streaming all of your favorite Netflix shows while you lie stunned on the couch, while simultaneously making it impossible to really absorb or digest what’s happening on screen. So while yes, you’ll technically be able to say you watched all of House of Cards season two, you won’t really remember what happened, or who did what, and when everyone talks about it at work, you’ll just try your best not to look confused.

10. But Bill is finally like, “Nah man, we’re going. Let’s go.” And he gets his coat on and you’re like, OK, I guess we’re going.

11. Bel Aire diner is much farther away than you remember, and it’s always pretty depressing walking this west of Broadway past one or two in the morning. That buzz of life and activity that defines your mental definition of Astoria, you question whether it ever existed in the first place as you gaze out at the desolate parking lot on the corner of 21st and Broadway, the Rite Aid, the Post Office. What happened to the White Castle?

12. But you go inside and, seriously, you didn’t expect it to be this crowded. Where are all of these people coming from? Why doesn’t anybody else look as dead as you feel on the inside right now?

13. They seat you right away and, even though you knew you just wanted a burger, this menu is huge, and maybe you want a milkshake, or a waffle, or some fried calamari.

14. You ask the waiter for just another minute, and he disappears for twenty. Actually getting food feels like an eternity. You have all the time in the world to mull over what you’ll order.

15. And when the waiter finally shows back up, you surprise even yourself when the words, “I’ll have a Monte Christo please, and a Coke,” come out of your mouth.

16. When Bill says, “What’s the Monte Christo?” you don’t even remember, and the waiter already took the menu away, but it must have looked really tasty.

17. And while the walking to the diner took forever, and the ordering took half a lifetime, the food shows up two and a half minutes later. It’s the Monte Christo. It’s French toasted challah topped with hot turkey and ham covered in melted Swiss. The waiter gives you a little monkey dish of butter and maple syrup, again, you had no idea, but you think, whatever man, he gave it to me for a reason.

18. And then you blink and you’re walking out of the diner, only having the vaguest idea of having devoured something delicious, the corners of your lips coated with the residual stick of mapley deliciousness.

19. And then you blink again and you’re back at your place, you’re lying in your bed trying to go to sleep but, even though you couldn’t keep your eyes open toward the end of the night at Bill’s, now everything’s kind of buzzing. But it’s not a buzz, buzzing, it’s like just enough of a buzz to keep you up. And the sun’s starting to come up and that’s not helping you drift off either. All you’re thinking about is how you overdid it, how you were looking so forward to this weekend but now it’s over, and tomorrow’s shot, and maybe some of Monday too.

20. You wake up in the morning and the hangover is soul shattering.

21. There’s nothing in the fridge. You place a takeout order to Brooklyn Bagel, and the guy has you on hold for like fifteen minutes. You know that this is only the tip of the waiting-around iceberg here. You’re on the phone, lying in your own misery, while the rest of Astoria is out and about, they’re all awake, they’re all currently standing on line at Brooklyn Bagel. They take the priority, OK, take out calls for lazy assholes too hungover to put on a pair of pants, they’ve got to wait.

22. You order your two everything bagels with bacon egg and cheddar, you’re half gallon of Tropicana Some Pulp OJ, and no, you’re not being obnoxiously over-specific, it’s the take out guy. Everything you order has at least two or three follow-up questions. Cheese: what kind? OJ: what size? How much pulp?

23. And what time is it anyway? Twelve-thirty? That’s actually not too bad. Maybe some of Sunday night can still be salvaged here. I mean, it’s still kind of late. You’re not going to go running in Astoria Park or anything, but maybe drinks later at The Strand? I’m just saying, it’s not like it’s three, or four. Twelve-thirty, you can still get breakfast at twelve-thirty.

24. And then the food finally shows up, you hadn’t anticipated the shame of having to confront another human being in your current state, really hung over, disheveled, desperate for food. All while this other person is, what, he’s on a bike delivering the food that you couldn’t get yourself to get dressed and wait on line for like everyone else? Maybe if you just give him a big tip, like a seven or eight dollar tip, maybe he won’t think you’re such a loser. He must party every once in a while, right? You guys are just on different schedules. Just like an eight or nine dollar tip.

25. The food, it’s great, but it’s just like your grandmother always said when you were a little kid, that thing about your eyes being bigger than your stomach. Because yeah, you were really hungry, and sure, two bagels seemed like a good idea at a time. But two bites into that second sandwich and it’s obvious the extra money that you’ve wasted. Maybe you’ll eat it later, but probably not. More than likely it’s going to sit there for the rest of the day, a cautionary tale, a reminder when you go to order dinner that, hey man, just take it easy OK? Maybe you only need four tacos from Los Portales, OK, not eight. That’s just excessive.

26. And when Bill calls you up at four and you’re like, “Bill, did you just get up?” and he’s like, “Yeah man, when did you get up?” you don’t have to be honest, you can just say that you don’t remember. But take a look, OK, that’s a guy who doesn’t have his shit together, OK, you can’t sleep until four in the afternoon, man, this isn’t college, all right, this shit isn’t cute when you’re almost thirty.

27. You’re starting to feel better about yourself, but you remember all of that pot Bill bought yesterday, how you guys barely made a dent last night, even though you just kept smoking, over and over again, you can still feel it on the back of your throat.

28. “Hey Bill, you want to get together and watch some House of Cards?”

29. “Yeah man, I’ve still got all of that pot. You want to grab some beers and come over?”

30. Bingo. And then you head over to Bill’s for a nice, easy Sunday. Nothing crazy, nothing like last night. Maybe just Corona, you know, nothing crazy. And bring the bagel. Someone’ll eat it. Just enjoy it man, you’re still young, just put on a clean pair of pants and go to Bill’s. And fucking House of Cards man, that show is the fucking best, you gotta savor that shit, because you know you’re going to blow through, if not all thirteen episodes, at least six, at least a solid six or seven hours of once-a-year, quality TV.

Come on, Bill, give me a call, for real

Dear Bill Simmons:

I’m not going to lie, I thought I would’ve had a full-time job at Grantland by now. Which is … well, whatever, you’ve probably got hundreds of would-be employees dedicating full columns on their blogs every week begging you to give them a shot as staff writers on one of the greatest sports and pop culture web sites of all time. I guess I’m just going to have to wait here patiently until you realize I’m exactly the writer you guys need to elevate Grantland to the next level.


No, even higher up, at least three levels higher than where you guys are currently at. And don’t get me wrong, it’s a great site. I’m not trying to say that it’s necessarily lacking in anything, you know, besides me as a staff writer. Bill, I’m like Butch Goring on the 1980 New York Islanders. Would they have gone on to win four Stanley Cups in a row without Butch? I mean, they still would have been a championship caliber team, so maybe. But then again, maybe not.

That’s me Bill, I’m the missing piece of the puzzle at Grantland. I get along great with everybody. Just think, you could’ve sent me to Sochi and I could’ve gained inside access to behind-the-scenes operations and special guests interviews. Like who? Like, I don’t know, maybe President Putin? Why not? I could have done it. Sure, I don’t speak any Russian, but I speak a better language: the all-encompassing dialogue of friendship.

And English. Seriously, everybody speaks English. I would’ve just kept walking in his direction pretending that I’m a lost American tourist, and then when I got close enough, I would’ve whipped out a microphone and my Grantland press pass and I would have been like, “How do you justify the use of authoritarian tactics on your own people? Why didn’t that fifth Olympic ring open up like it was supposed to? Where’s the rest of that meteor that fell out of the sky last year?”

His guards would immediately spring to action, holding up walkie-talkies, trying to restrain me and drag me out of the building. But Vladimir would stop, because despite whatever the international community says about him, he’s a man that respects power. He’d look me in the eye and he’d say something in Russian, at which all of the guards would release me. Some other Russian guy would come up to me and say something like, “President Putin admires your courage. You will be granted exclusive interview. Where are you from, the Times? New Yorker?”

And I’d just say, “Grantland.” Of course I’d call you up immediately and give you the exclusive. Just think about how much worldwide coverage you’d get, Bill Simmons, one-on-one with Vladamir Putin. And that’s just the start. If you go back to my 1980s New York Islanders analogy, I’ll keep getting better and better, our working relationship, hopefully I’ll grow to earn your respect just like I would have the Russian President.

I’m getting carried away. Who knows if you’ve even read any of these letters yet? My big worry is that I’m going to be doing it for years, letter after letter, and then one week I’m going to go on vacation or something. I’ll say, eh, I guess I could just skip one week. I mean, what are the chances that Bill Simmons is going to discover my blog on the one day that I decided not to post him an open letter? And then that would be exactly the day that you’d find your way here.

And seeing nothing of immediate interest, you’d scan my pages of text before writing me off as just another amateur Internet guy. After maybe ten or fifteen seconds, you’d click x on the web browser before you even got a chance to see all of these letters, to you Bill. Obviously I’d have no way of ever knowing if that were to be the case, but I have a pretty vivid imagination, and just the possibility of that happening is enough to keep me writing every week, regardless of if I’m on vacation or not. And that’s what I’ll bring to Grantland. I’ll work around the clock, never taking a break, barely sleeping, I’ll throw all other relationships and activities to the curb and make being one of your staff writers my only priority.

Let’s do it Bill. Call me up. Maybe you can get me to Sochi before the gold medal hockey game.


Rob G.

I’m going, man, I’m out of here

When the going gets tough, man, I’m going man, I’m out of here, OK, maybe if the going gets a little easier, maybe I’ll come back. Maybe, but probably not. Like when the washing machine broke down at my old place, my roommate Bill was like, “Should we call a repairman?” and I was like, “No, Bill, just call the super, OK, it’s not like it’s our washer and dryer, OK, that’s the owner’s problem, right, that’s what you call the super for.”


And the super, he didn’t live in the building, he lived somewhere else. I think he might have been the super for a bunch of buildings. I never asked him, but the few times that I did see him, he was always acting like he had to be going somewhere else, “I gotta get out of here man, sorry, I can’t really chit-chat, all right, I gotta get across town,” totally preempting me from even possibly asking a question, like hey man, maybe you could come upstairs and check out the sink, just, it’s not urgent, but you know, when you get a chance.

“Maybe if we call the repairman we can just have them send a bill to the owner.” That was Bill again. And yeah, it did suck not having a functioning washing machine. It was definitely one of, if not the reason we chose this place over all of the other apartments we looked at. Like that one six blocks closer to the subway. Or the one that had the lofted bedroom, the one with the spiral staircase.

“No way, Bill, come on man,” I remember making my argument, “we have to get this place. Do you know how many apartments in New York City have washers and dryers? Zero. None of them.” And yeah, even though Bill was like, “Well, not zero, I mean, what about this one? This one has a washer and dryer. So it’s got to be at least one, not zero.” I’m pretty sure he was joking. I mean, he’s thick, but he’s not that thick. And he wanted it too. How could you not want your own washer and dryer?

“Bill,” I tried to spell it out for him, “If we get some repairman to come in, you might as well get out the checkbook, because I can see it going down right now, the super’s going to be like, ‘I don’t know boss, I don’t think the owner’s gonna go for this,’ and we’ll be like, ‘Why not?’ and he’ll say, ‘I could have fixed that, all right, I was going to fix that. Why didn’t you guys call me up?’”

Because we can’t call him up. We’re supposed to go through the management company, even though it’s just the owner’s house up in Westchester, it’s not a real management company, it’s just him, I’ve called up, plenty of times, the pipes were clogged, or we needed the exterminator, it was always, “You gotta go through the management company,” even though, the first few times I called, it didn’t make any sense, it was clearly an old-fashioned answering machine at a residential house.

“You can’t just give me your cell number?” I tried to ask the super one time when I caught him in the hall, I wanted to ask about the heat, to see if there was any way to turn it down, I get it, it’s an old building, but this was just a really, really dry heat, non-stop. “Sorry boss, you gotta make an appointment, OK? I gotta get across town, all right? You gotta call up the management office.”

But the management office, the owner, whatever, he never picked up the phone, and that answering machine had to be full, and yeah, Bill kept telling me, “Rob, this place, it totally wasn’t worth it for the washer and dryer.” And that was all I had left to cling to, “Of course it’s worth it for the washer and dryer. You’re just spoiled. You don’t remember what it was like, putting all of your clothes in a big sack, you think, OK, this week I’m not going to put it off, I’m not going to make it like I’m trying to shove every piece of clothing I own into this sack that clearly doesn’t want to close, I’m going to carry that sack over my shoulders, I’m going to walk what, two? Three blocks? You want to go back to that? You don’t know how good we got it.”

Which, yeah, Bill must have gotten attached, even more than I was, which I didn’t think that was possible, “You want to risk putting your own money down on that old washing machine?” and he was like, “Yeah man, whatever, let’s just get it fixed, we can fight with management about the money later.”

Did he just say management? “Listen, Bill, there is no management company, OK, it’s just …” but I couldn’t, I couldn’t get myself to say management company one more time, I totally gave up. You want to figure it out? Figure it out. At least the owner never gave us a chance to sign that lease. I kept bugging the super whenever I’d see him, “You know anything about the lease?” I thought, these guys are going to try to kick us out, jack up the prices, I want this deal in writing, I want signatures. But now it’s like, man, I’m so glad we didn’t sign the lease.

“Bill, I’m out man, I’m going to go stay with my parents on Long Island.” He was like, “What?” Yep, Long Island, my parents have a washer and dryer, my old bed, I’ll just take the train to work until management figures it out. Too bad for Bill, his parents still live in Nevada. Arizona. Something like that. They came to visit once, but it’s a small place, I bailed last second, I said I had a family party on Long Island, but nah, I just didn’t feel like meeting his folks, keeping up with the fake smiling all weekend.

Nah man, too much, I’m out, remember what I said at the beginning? I was like, “When the going gets tough,” because you naturally think I’m going to say, “The tough get going,” but no, I’m out, I’m going, I’m going home to Long Island, I’m calling up the owner and telling him I’m not paying any more rent, nope, sorry Bill, you should get out too man, let me know if you find any cool apartments, I’ll borrow my dad’s truck and we’ll do the move in one swoop.