The other day my brother said to me, ‘Everything you write in The Devin’s Advocate is about something you hate.’ I don’t agree with that sentiment*, but I see where he’s coming from. Like all brilliant, creative people I crave feedback, so I tend to write things that are geared to get a reaction. Plus I know it’s easier to funny/provocative about something that irks you, and I’m all about easy shit.
But I thought about it, and I have come to the conclusion that while my brother is yet again wrong, he has a point, and that maybe I should use this column to spread some love on things I wouldn’t normally write about. So here’s the plan: on the first Tuesday of every month, this column (which is technically supposed to run on Tuesdays but I run whenever the fuck I feel like it, thank you) will focus on some stuff that’s making me happy.
What I’m Loving on TV: The Wire. Hands down my favorite thing to watch on my TV. I bought the first season on DVD a month or so ago when Best Buy had it online for 25 bucks; I quickly ended up buying seasons 2 and 3, and have been watching the HBO2 repeats of season 4, which isn’t out on DVD yet.
The Wire is amazing for a number of reasons. It’s so realistic that you feel like you could go work homicide or a Baltimore drug corner after watching a season. And every year the show pulls the focus back a little bit, so that it stopped being just a crime show and became a show about modern urban living. The Wire has a cast of dozens and their stories are meticulously followed over the course of years, and we never have our hands holded – the show demands your full attention. But it pays off completely, and it’s so easy to be fully engaged in these people and their daily struggles and victories and defeats.
The show has some of the greatest writing I have ever encountered on episodic TV, and it manages to balance between building stories to satisfyingly dramatic conclusions while feeling utterly real. And The Wire has a palpable sense of place; maybe that’s what I love about the show the most, how it is a mash note and a dear john letter to the troubled city of Baltimore. Any dedicated city dweller understands that dichotomy perfectly.
What I’m Loving in Beer: Brooklyn Beer Pennant Ale ’55. I drink a lot of beer and have the gut and debilitating brain damage to prove it; no beer makes me as happy as this brew. One of the things that’s really bumming me out about moving to LA is that Brooklyn Beer isn’t going to be as readily available as it here, a couple of miles from the brewery.
Pennant Ale is a pale ale with a nice flavor, and is marvelous with a hearty meal or just sitting on the couch with the windows open listening to the homies arguing on the stoop. And as a born and bred Brooklyn boy, I love the shout out to the Dodgers before they abandoned us, as I’m about to do. I really recommend trying to get your hands on this beer if you like a traditional English pale ale. And if you can’t find it, get your local version – anybody who’s drinking Budweiser or Coors in a world where so many beer options are available is missing out.
What I’m Loving in Music: The Classic Rock Digital Cable Channel. I’m working at home these days on a shitty laptop as I wait forever for my desktop to be fixed by a friend (it’s free, so I can’t complain. And I can’t afford a new computer). My CD collection is buried, put to pasture by the MP3 revolution, but without my main machine I don’t have my MP3s. I need to listen to music while I write, and the perfect solution has come in the form of the Classic Rock channel on my digital cable. It’s not what I would be playing on my iTunes, but the familiar songs provide a decent beat and background without ever intruding on my fragile genius as I struggle to compose my wittiest poop jokes. And the digital cable Classic Rock channel has some surprises you wouldn’t hear on Classic Rock radio – they play a lot of Frank Zappa, for instance.
What I’m Loving in Food: Sea Salt and Vinegar Kettle Chips. These go so perfectly with my Pennant Ale. Goddamned tangy and salty as a mermaid’s pussy, these chips are supposedly better for you than regular chips, but not in the way I eat them.
What I’m Loving in Comics: Criminal Volume 1: Coward. The first trade of Ed Brubaker’s new crime comic kicked my ass. I’m a self-loathing superhero comic reader, but I think I would be able to kick the habit quicker if more quality books in other genres were published. Coward builds beautifully over the course of five issues to a climactic finale that will have you on the edge of your seat; Brubaker's a master storyteller, and his characters pop off the page so realistically you'll be checking to make sure they haven't taken your wallet. Crime comics haven’t been a big market since the 50s, but I think Brubaker has the chops to lead us to a new crime promised land. There will be a Brubaker interview on CHUD soon… if we’re ever able to get our schedules lined up. In the meantime, buy the book from CHUD by clicking here.
What I’m Loving in Life: My job. Last month I finally quit my day job and have been devoting myself to CHUD full time. It’s a dream come true in a lot of ways, and while I don’t know how long this ride will last, I’m relishing every second of it. Today, instead of going to an office and doing what someone else tells me to do, I went to four movies. Now, by movie three it’s actually starting to feel like work (the good news is that movie three was Ocean’s 13, which is the best one yet in my opinion. Loved it), but it still beats the shit out of collating TPS reports or whatever people in real jobs do. In this year I’ve been to England and Romania – one place I had always hoped to go and one place I never even considered or imagined going to. Through CHUD I have met some incredible people, both of the average joe variety and the famous variety. Sometimes when I write things about famous people, they email me comments. But most of all, I get to write all day, and I get to write about what I want to write about. On top of that I’m given the privilege of having a pretty big soap box upon which to stand and shout about the little movies that I think deserve more attention. The second best thing I get from this job is emails thanking me for championing a certain film that the writer would never have seen. The first best thing is the paycheck.
What I’m Loving on the Web: ShockTilYouDrop.com. While my first stop for all things horror-related is CHUD si(ni)ster site Creature Corner, this new site, spearheaded by former Corner denizen Ryan Rotten, is a great read. Ryan’s one of the most stand-up and legit guys I have met in this business we call web journalism, and on top of that he’s a great writer and has an incredible depth of knowledge and love for his genre. We’re all in competition here on the world wide web, sort of, but we’re also a community together, and I’m proud to be part of a community that includes Ryan.
* In fact I fucking hate it.