Saturday, November 15, 2014

#30 - Customer Service

Call #1:

Hello, My name is Tricia. Thank you for calling Time Warner Cable. I'll be doing whatever I can to make your day miserable. Can I have your full name and account number?

Um, my name name is Peter Wick, and the account number is __________.

Okay, great. I have your account up here. What can I do for you today?

I'll be moving on the 1st of the month. So I need my TV service moved to the new address at that time. I also will need your internet service added at the new address as well.

Okay, I see you have our basic cable TV service. We have a bundle that I think would be perfect for you, Cable, phone and internet for a package price of $______.

No, I don't want phone sevice. I have a cell phone. I just want my cable moved and internet added.

I understand, but this is the most inexpensive package we have.

But it costs more than just adding internet to my current service, and I don't want the phone.

Actually, just adding internet to your existing service will cost, $_______. So as you can see it is cheaper to get the bundle with the phone.

How can that be? Why is it cheaper to get three things, including one I don't want, than to just get the two things I want?

That's just how we work at Time Warner.

I don't want the phone.

Of course you don't. No one does. We force you to get it by talking around in circles like this.

Call #2:

Time Warner Cable. Tricia speaking. How can I help you?

Hi, I spoke with you yesterday. I decided to go ahead and sign up for your bundle, even though I don't actually want the phone.

I see. Actually we currently have you signed up for a different package, including having one of our representaties call you each day to yell obscenities at you, for the new priice of $__________. We have you scheduled for an installation appointment Tuesday bettween 8 am and sometime next year.

Call #3:

Hi, I was supposedly scheduled for an istallation appointment today, but haven't seen any sign of the technician. Any word on when this guy is going to show up?

Oh, actually, that appoointment was cancelled.



By who?

By someone in our Trivial Annoyance Department. It seems the order was written up wrong, and the technician felt he needed more time than what was scheduled.

Was anyone going to bother telling me it was canceled? I dropped some work today, so I could sit around all day waiting for this guy.



No, no one was going to call you to tell you the appointment was cancelled.

Call #4

Time Warner Cable, Tricia speaking. how can I help you?

Hi, Peter Wick again.

Hi Mister Wick. Are you calling to sign up for our premium package? It includes HBO and Showtime, as well as several very expensive but murky and unspecified services that will show up on your bill as 'various fees.'

Uh, no, no I didn't call up for that reason.

Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. What can I do for you?

Well, I have in my hand a paper bill for my old address, with the old services, charging me for next month.

Mm hm, and what seems to be the problem?

Well, I mean, I cancelled service at the old address. I have different services, at a different price at a new address. So, I'm wondering why you're still expecting me to pay for services where I no longer live.

Oh, because we were hoping you wouldn't notice, and just pay without questioning.

I see. Well....I'm questioning.

Rats! There goes part of my commission.

And, one other thing...


I went without service for 11 days at the beginning of the month. Any chance I can be credited for the days I had no service?

Hm, let's see, would you be willing to pay an additional thirty-five dollars for that service?

No, no, see, what I'm asking is if you can credit me back a little money because I received no service for eleven days.

I understand, Mr. Wick. I'm just asking you if you are willing to pay for that?

Pay for that! NO, see a credit means you give me some money back, or you deduct it from my next bill.

Exactly, Mr. wick, and we are willing to credit you Fifteen dollars back, if -

If? If what?

If you are willing to pay thirty-five dollars for the service fee.

The service fee?

To process the credit.

You know what, never mind. I'm thinking seriously about just going out to see live entertainment every night.

What are you saying, Mr. wick?

I'm thinking seriously about just cutting the cord and going without cable.

Hmm, that would be very expensive.

Expensive!? no, I would have to pay nothing. I would have no cable.

We charge a base price of two hundred dollars a month for that service.

What service?

Well, Mr. Wick, you must certainly understand that if it costs a certain amount for us to run cable entertainment and internet, not to mention the phone that you famously do not want, into your apartment, just imagine how much it costs for us to go away.

What do you mean?

Two hundred dollars a month to get us out of your life, Mr. Wick. That's our most prized service. Many people are willing to pay quite a lot for us to leave them alone. Are you willing to go down this road?

You know what, never mind. Just shut up and stop being so silly.

I would, but...

But what?

I would have to charge you for that service.

-Peter Wick
November 15, 2014

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

#29 - Rising Waters

I don't want to think about how much it was. I certainly don't want to SAY how much it was. But I just dropped of a check covering the deposit on a new apartment I will move into on the 1st of next month.

It's in Venice, California, a block and a half from Venice beach. The end of the continent.

I've lived in Venice before. Twenty years ago I was in the neighborhood for two years. I'm not really a beach person, but I prefer the beach to the freeway.

A friend asked me, jokingly, "Do they speak Italian in Venice in California?" I said, "No, they speak Dude."

I remember heading out to the beach one December - I don't remember what year it was - when the cold wind was whipping in off the water so intensely, I could barely stand up straight. I was the only person at the beach that day. "This is the right time to come to the beach," I thought to myself, "when it reminds you that it's part of nature."

As I walked down the street in front of my new apartment building, I looked out at the serene-looking water, wondering how many years would pass before ocean levels rise enough to turn my street into the real Venice. Grab a boat and paddle. Welcome to Venice.

I recently watched a documentary about a sea port Caesar Augustus built two thousand years ago. Historians investigating the site now have to deal with the reality that water levels are three feet higher today than they were in Augusts' day.

Three feet in two thousand years.

How many years for the next three feet?

I'll write something about it if I need a water rescue from my apartment.

I don't really look forward to moving day. Lots of carrying and loading and pulling things up a flight of stairs. I'm glad to be back in the neighborhood, though. I recognize a guy on the Venice boardwalk who has been playing a guitar while roller blading, for twenty years now. He hasn't changed too much in twenty years. Maybe the lines in his face are a little deeper. But he doesn't care. He skates around the boardwalk, wailing away on his guitar. Not a bad life if you ask me.

The apartment itself is tiny, as apartments go. Apartment hunting in L.A. is pretty brutal. New York is probably ten times worse, but the process of trying to find a place - and beat out all the other applicants - has left me feeling a little punchy. Walking into places in my price range and wondering how the hell I get my stuff in here; being beaten out for places that were perfect; finding decent places I can afford, in neighborhoods that are less than ideal (Watts and Compton have great deals, really).

So, in the end, I plant my roots in Venice - not the Italian Venice, the Dude Venice.

And I sit and wait for the waters to rise.
-Peter Wick
October 15, 2014

Monday, September 15, 2014

#28 - Yahoo Bites The Dust

Several of my friends recently received a fake email, saying it was from me, that I was stranded in Turkey, desperate, and could they please send money.

Every one of my friends laughed at the email, ignored it, and went on with their lives.

I'm glad they knew it was fake, but their complete and total dismissal of an email purporting to be from me, claiming a desperate situation, and asking for money, made me wonder; what would happen if I actually were stuck in Turkey?

I mean, I don't have any plans, but I can imagine a scenario in which I fly to Turkey; maybe a plane is hijacked. Maybe to save my life I have to give a hijacker all my money. Then maybe I send out an email saying truthfully that I am stuck in Turkey, desperate, and can you please send money.

Would all of my friends laugh that one off?

Fortunately the email was fake.

Or unfortunately...since it meant that my email address of 15 years had been hacked into.

At this point in the story I am going to name names...Yahoo.

Yes, Yahoo, I'm talking to you.

Never has there been a more impenetrable black hole of a corporation than you.

After changing my password and following all of Yahoo's security instructions, I promptly lost all access to my old Yahoo email completely.

I don't mind saying good bye to Yahoo, but after 15 years of writing and film production, you can imagine how many documents, folders, legal and creative files I had among my attachments.

So I tried sending Yahoo a message through their help page.

No response.

I called Yahoo.

I listened to the following astounding message; "Our call volume is high. We may not be able to answer your call. If the connection is cut off, please go to the Yahoo help page."

I waited on hold for a few minutes, listening as their recorded message assured me that my call was important. Then everything went silent. I looked at my phone in disbelief. The connection had been cut off.

I called again.

Same thing.

I tried again the next day.

Same thing.

My old Yahoo email - and countless files - appear to be lost forever.

Good riddance Yahoo.

Maybe they're getting back at me for dropping their web hosting a few months ago.

My website was hosted by Yahoo for several years, until I was finally convinced by intelligent people that Yahoo web hosting is the worst web hosting available.

I am setting off on a new course in life. Many great things lie ahead.

Among them, and most important, is the ultimate and complete death of Yahoo.'re going down!
-Peter Wick
September 15, 2014

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

#27 - Debate Over; Soccer has made it in America - July, 2014

We need to stop having an out-dated 20th century debate in the United States.

The out-dated 20th century debate is: "How can soccer make it in America?"

The relevant 21st century debate should be; "How DID soccer make it in America?"

Anyone who still thinks soccer has not made it has not been paying attention. It has happened. The debate is over...and it's been over for more than a decade.

Don't get me wrong. I understand that soccer is far from being the dominant sport in this country.

When I say soccer has made it in America, I am pointing to three undeniable factors:

1). Major League Soccer has become a permanent fixture of the American sports landscape. MLS is here to stay. It's making money and growing. Get used to it. The American sports landscape is; NFL, NBA, MLB, MLS, NHL, NASCAR, tennis, boxing, MMA, Lacrosse, and...well, you name it. If it's a competition it will find a home somewhere in America (hot dog eating contest, anyone?).

2). MLS is also a player on the world stage of soccer leagues...A PLAYER, not THE player, but A player.

While MLS does not boast the glamour of The English Premier League, Spain's La Liga, or Italy's Serie A, it has become a respected league on the world stage.

"The World Stage" is something that most American sports fans are still getting used to. We expect the world's best basketball players - from Spain (Pau Gasol), from Argentina (Manu Ginobili), from France (Tony Parker) - to come play in the NBA. anything else is the minor leagues.

In the world of soccer, though, every country has a league. Let me just say that one more time. Every country has a soccer league.

There is back and forth movement going on all the time. MLS sends players to Europe. European leagues send players here. It's a relationship.

It was a minor scandal in Australia when Tim Cahill moved from England to New York Red Bulls, rather than going home to play in Australia.

Moves like this actually give MLS a leg up on many countries leagues.

Maybe an up-and-comer in Costa Rica (the true World Cup surprise team this year) is weighing offers, but not from England, Spain, Italy, or Germany. Where do you want to play? Norway? Sweden? Greece? Japan? MLS? Many will pick MLS and play for Sporting Kansas City or D.C. United, rather than Malmo in Sweden, or Yokohama FM in Japan.

So...MLS is a player on the world stage of soccer leagues.

3). The U.S. Men's national team will always be expected to make the knockout rounds of future World Cups.

Okay, we're not semifinalists. We're not finalists. We're not champions. But, of the 32 teams arriving at each World Cup in the future, the U.S national team will always be expected, now. to end up in the top 16.

We've done it consistently enough in recent World Cups (three of the last four), that the expectation is established now.

Prior to this World Cup I argued with a few friends who were convinced that the U.S would not survive the "Group of Death." I was certain that we would. Once we did, the bar was permanently established; the U.S. should always be expected to get out of their group and reach the round of 16.

I guess the next step is to raise the bar up another notch.

See you in the Gold Cup next year, Mexico.

-Peter Wick
July 15, 2014

Saturday, June 14, 2014

#26 - Soccer, Noses, and Doctor's Advice - June, 2014

The World Cup began a couple days ago. Every four years life stops for a month as soccer dominates everything.

This means that the only thing I'm interested in writing about is soccer.

First, as a side note, I am comfortable referring to the sport as either soccer or football. The word 'soccer' originally came from England. The word 'football' comes from everywhere in the world. I am also comfortable with the word 'calcio,' which is what the Italians have called the game, both in its current form, and in previous forms going back about 500 years.

So...what am I going to write about soccer? I'm not going to write about the sport itself.

I am going to write about my nose.

I broke my nose in a soccer practice, one day when I was seventeen years old.

I was trying to out-jump my teammate Martin to head the ball as it came down out of the air. Being a practice, we had split up the team and Martin was playing against me.

Things happen in split seconds on the soccer field. Martin won the header. I snapped my head toward the ball a millisecond too late. My attempt to head the ball resulted in a collision between my nose and Martin's head.

Blood was everywhere.

My chin, my shirt, the ground below me, was all blood red.

Our coach suspended practice, put me in his car, and drove me to the hospital. The Doctor poked around inside my nose with some tools, straightened it out to about 3/4 or 7/8 of its normal straightness, and then gave me a choice.

He said I needed a more thorough procedure to fully repair my nose. I could have it done right away, and be medically banned from playing for several weeks until it was 100% healed. Or I could live with the slightly crooked nose and be cleared to play again in a week.

I took the second choice. I didn't want to miss games.

The Doctor made me promise that I would have the procedure done sometime in the next few years.

I never had it done.

Years later, my nose is still slightly crooked. It isn't too bad. In some pictures you can hardly tell. Up close it is noticeable, though.

Whenever i notice it, looking in a mirror, it just reminds me that I once chose to keep the crooked nose, because I didn't want to miss soccer games.

Now it is a lifelong reminder, and maybe, just maybe a bit of a badge of honor.
-Peter Wick
June 14, 2014

Thursday, May 15, 2014

#25 - Very early sneak peak "It IS What It Is"

Note: I've been buried working on a new book, tentatively to be published later this year. This month's blog is a very very early sneak peak.

IT IS WHAT IT IS - Early sample.

“I need each of you to make a statement,” the cop said. “Tell me everything you were doing, what your missing drummer was doing. Details. Give me details.” He sat down opposite us in a plain black chair. “Let’s start with you,” he said, looking at me.

I looked over at Stella, coughed a couple times, and finally said, “No, man, um, I..I don’t know anything. I wasn’t there.”

The officer’s eyes tried to cut a hole in me.

“So, why are you here, exactly?” he asked.

“Well, I guess I was going to help look for the guy, you know. I mean IQ’s missing. I’m here to help find him.”

“Zenny owns the house we live in,” Stella said.

“Zenny?” the cop asked.

“That’s my name,” I said.

“Zenny, is that short for something?”

“No, no, it’s actually long….for ‘Zen’,” I said.

“Can I see your I.D. please?”

I reached for my pocket, but in the hurry and chaos I had left my wallet at home.

“I...I don’t have my I.D."

the cop tapped his pen nervously on the arm of his chair.

“You don’t have your I.D.?”

“Look, man, it was all happening so fast. I mean, I was asleep. They woke me up. We were outside. How about if we just get on with looking for IQ?”

The cop shook his head and sighed heavily. “Okay,” he said, turning to Stella, “were you actually there? Can you make a real statement, with events that actually happened, that maybe you saw with your own eyes?”

“I can,” Stella said.

The problem with listening to Stella is that I forget to actually listen to her. I look at the shocking streak of orange hair that invades her natural black. Her words and her voice wash over me like water.

Everyone knows she is going to be a star, a superstar, one of these days. It just hasn’t happened yet.

When she puts that guitar over her shoulder and steps up to the mic, Andre, IQ, and GQ behind her, then she pounds out that first chord, leans to the mic, and belts out her unique gut-level, attitude-infused voice, colored with just a touch of sensitivity, well, I don’t have words to describe how I feel.

I have to shake myself out of my trance and actually pay attention to what she’s saying.

The story she told the cop didn’t seem to satisfy him.

They had gone to the club to watch three different bands play. the first two bands rocked pretty hard, she said. the cop didn’t care, but Stella had to comment on the show.

She was at the front of the crowd with IQ at her side, for the second band’s set.

As the set ended, Stella and IQ joined Andre and GQ in the bar. Andre was trying to pick up some girl who Stella thought was a little too trashy for him.

“She was a smart girl,” Andre argued.

“Look,” said the cop angrily, “can we just get through what happened? The events leading up to the disappearance?”

Stella continued.

The four of them hung out in the bar while the third band took the stage. None of them really liked the guys in the third band. they’d met them before and thought they were all pretentious assholes.

So they stayed in the bar while the pretentious assholes (not their actual band name, but it might as well be) played a bunch of lame pretentious asshole music.

A few friends of Stella’s found her and the guys in the bar. It was an awkward moment, Stella explained, because she and IQ were having an argument.

After the pretentious assholes quit playing, no one was in a hurry to leave.

Except IQ.

“We were fighting,” Stella said.

The cop cleared his throat and looked up from the paper he was writing on. “Are you and the missing party, um, involved?”

“That’s kind of what we were arguing about,” Stella answered.

There was tension in the room, and Stella was avoiding eye contact with Andre. Andre stared at her with a sort of pissy expression.

“IQ and I had slept together,” she said. There was a stony silence. “He wanted us to be together.”

“And you didn’t?” the cop asked.

“I told him I needed to figure some things out. He was really upset. He started acting like he did last time.”

“Last time?”

Stella glanced at me, then Andre, then GQ. He disappeared once before, six months ago. We found him crashing at some disgusting house, not eating, wasting away.”

“Does the missing person have a history of drug abuse?”

Stella looked at the cop sideways. “He’s searching for something,” she said. “He says weird things sometimes. He’s searching for something transcendent.”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“I’m not sure,” Stella said, quietly. “I don’t think he knows either.”

“Okay, let’s get back to the events of last night.. you argued. Then what?”

After the argument, IQ went outside to have a cigarette. When Stella, GQ, and Andre went out to find him he wasn’t there. The sidewalk was empty.

All they found was IQ’s wallet lying in the bushes.

The cop looked at the wallet. There was money inside; eighteen dollars.

The cop shook his head. “I assume you tried calling him, texting.”

“His phone’s off,” Stella said. “Straight to voicemail.”

“How is it,” the cop asked, looking at me, “that we have I.D. for the guy who’s missing, but you’re sitting here and we don’t have any I.D. for you?”

“Well, man,” I said, “life is full of fucking irony.”

-Peter Wick
May 15, 2014

Monday, April 14, 2014

#24 - Cobain/Van Gogh

This month marks the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain's death, and while countless articles are rehashing the same old themes, I want too float an idea out into the world that has been on my mind for...well, for 20 years.

First, I should say on a personal note that while I can count one or two Seattle musicians from the grunge era as friends, I never actually met Kurt Cobain. I blew off a friend's show once, not knowing until later that it would have been my one chance to hang out backstage with Kurt.

I do feel some personal connection to his loss, through friends who knew him and talked about their own personal memories after he died.

This isn't about my personal feelings, though.

I want to put Kurt Cobain into some sort of historical perspective.

To me, Kurt Cobain was the late 20th Century's musical Vincent Van Gogh.

Both were brilliant, troubled artists. Both probably suffered from some form of diagnosable mental illness.

Both were part of artistic 'movements' that caused them to be in conflict with the 'establishment.'

Both even suffered from severe PHYSICAL problems that contributed to their downward spirals (Van Gogh's ringing ear, Cobain's aching stomach).

Van Gogh came up as a painter among France's 'impressionist' movement in the late 1800's.

More than 100 years later the impressionists (Monet, Manet, Renoir) seem tame, but at the time they were revolutionary. they purposely broke all the establishment rules of painting. You could see their brush strokes. They painted sunlight informally as it really looked during different times of the day. They rejected posed mannerisms for candid movement.

They were the art world's punks.

Among this group, Van Gogh was an extremely volatile, insanely talented presence.

The comparison between the rebellious Impressionist movement and the 80's punk rock movement - which evolved into the 90's grunge era - doesn't seem too far of a stretch to me. It's not a perfect comparison, but it's a reasonable one.

Cobain also had a volatile, but insanely talented presence in his movement.

Both Van Gogh and Cobain expressed their anguish, their volatility, their compassion, and their internal conflicts honestly and daringly.

Both suffered downward spirals that resulted in tragedy.

Both remain losses that are hard to explain.

Everyone who writes about Cobain tries to find adequate words to make sense of his too-short life.

I feel those words are not too difficult to find. They are simply:

Kurt Cobain, one hundred years later, was music's Vincent Van Gogh.

-Peter Wick
April 14, 2014

Friday, March 14, 2014

#23 - CHRIS FARLEY - March, 2014

When Chris Farley's "Down by the river" sketch was named greatest SNL sketch of all time recently, I was reminded of the one time I met Chris Farley.

I should probably say up front that telling this story is not intended to be any kind of definitive statement about who Chris Farley was or what he was like. This is the only time I ever met him. Someone who knew him better than me would have to put this story into perspective.

It was 1993, during a year-and-a-half-long period in which I took any small job on any Hollywood movie set that I could.

Central Casting sent me to work an all-nighter on the Fox Studios lot, to be an Extra rocking out to White Zombie in the club scene for the movie "Airheads."

It was a thankless job; an uncredited Extra. I watched the scene again recently and can't find myself anywhere on camera, not lurking in the dark corners of any shot, nothing.

I was there, though, paired with a gorgeous blond girl. I don't remember her name, so for remainder of this story she will simply be referred to as, "Gorgeous Blond Girl."

"You two are boyfriend and girlfriend," the assistant director told us. "When we say 'action,' you just start rocking out."

Simple enough.

Life on a film set has a lot of down-time, though. So, Gorgeous Blond Girl and I had a full evening to hang out together. We were comfortable enough with each other, but she dropped The Big Warning early in the conversation.

"The Big Warning" is a girl very casually - almost TOO casually - dropping the phrase, "Oh, my boyfriend - "

It doesn't matter what the rest of the sentence is. She just let you know she's off limits. some guys take it as a challenge. I accepted it without a second thought.

The club scene in "Airheads" has Chris Farley as a cop, entering the club, getting knocked around a mosh pit by some tough guys, and then finding the character he's looking for at the bar.

We had to shoot different parts of it over and over all night, trying to get White Zombie's performance right, trying to get Chris Farley's mosh pit moment right, etc.

We were still early in the process, during a quiet moment between shots, when Chris Farley was randomly standing just a few feet from myself and Gorgeous Blond Girl.

"What's your name?" he asked her.

She answered.

He followed up with a few casual remarks and a joke or two. She responded flatly, and soon everyone had to return to their marks for another take.

"That was awkward," she whispered to me as Farley walked away.

"And the evening's still young," I said.

"Oh, god, no," she sighed.

Then someone yelled 'Action.' White Zombie rocked their song again. Gorgeous Blond Girl and I rocked out.


"Tell me he's not coming over here," she said to me when things quieted down again.

"He's coming over here," I said.

"God! No," she whispered.

Chris Farley turned on the charm this time. He was a celebrity, and he knew he could get what he wanted - most of the time.

She chatted politely with him, but stayed just cold enough to avoid encouraging him.

We rocked out to White Zombie some more, and then she proposed an idea to me.

"Hey," she said, hesitantly at first, "do you think, um, maybe we could actually pretend to be boyfriend and girlfriend, maybe just enough to get him to stop?"

"Sure," I said, smiling. "I'm game."

The next time things got quiet, and we were told to relax, I sat in a chair. She sat on my lap, dropped an arm over my shoulders, and when Farley started walking toward us she leaned close to my ear and teasingly whispered something to me, making it look like we were sharing a very private moment.

It worked.

Chris Farley was smooth.

He stopped in front of a brand new gorgeous girl, making it look as if he had been eyeing her the whole time.

The new girl seemed more open to his celebrity advances.

Gorgeous Blond Girl was off the hook.

As actors we were a little deeper into character the rest of the evening. We were boyfriend and girlfriend until about four in the morning. Then we went our separate ways, never to see each other again.

A few years later Chris Farley was dead, from a lethal combination of drugs.

He left a legacy of brilliant comedy and mediocre movies.


Hell, I don't know.

Maybe someday I'll get a chance to ask his old buddy, David Spade.

-Peter Wick
March 14, 2014

Friday, February 14, 2014

#22 - Brothers - Feb. 2014

I'm not sure what year it was. I think I was in First or Second grade. My brother David would have been in Junior High School. He had received a Daisy air rifle BB gun as a Christmas present and promptly spent the following week shooting tree trunks, blades of grass, basically declaring war on all inanimate objects in the neighborhood.

He became bored with these lifeless enemies, though, so he decided to move on to the most logical next target; our other brother Dan.

Dan is the middle brother; older than me, younger than David.

Anyone who has either been a part of, observed, or even come across a family with three brothers, knows that this is a very dangerous situation, one that is on the verge of combustion at any given time.

Brothers - especially when there are three of them - have a tendency to hurt each other for fun, injure each other for laughs, insult each other as a way to simply pass the time.

David lay on his stomach on the floor of the bedroom.

He was mostly hidden behind the doorway. He aimed the air rifle carefully at Dan, who was vacuuming the living room, a chore my mother had placed on him.

To me David looked like the perfect sniper hiding in the grass, sizing up his unsuspecting victim.

I was behind David and I was absolutely beside myself. I was jumping up and down with an uncontrollable mix of excitement and fear.

"Sh! Quiet!" David whispered back at me.

"Do it! Do it!" I whispered back.

David lay his cheek down carefully on the butt of the gun. He adjusted his eye onto the site and took a slow breath.

Dan was turned away from us, pushing and pulling the vacuum cleaner on the carpet. He was wearing blue jeans, his butt a worthy and inviting target.

The suspense was killing me.


David pulled the trigger.

The wail that came from Dan's mouth was a thing of terrifying beauty.

It pierced that wall of vacuum-cleaner noise and must certainly have travelled out into the street, to the neighbor's houses.

He twisted to look down at his own butt, where a clear indentation the size of a tiny BB showed in his blue jeans. The BB itself had fallen harmlessly to the floor.

My mother came rushing into the room, as David and I quickly hid inside the bedroom, sharing hysterical laughter.

Our laughter gave us away. My mom and Dan came into the room and looked at us.

"Did you shoot your brother with the BB gun?"

We tried to hold our laughter, but couldn't. We were cracking up uncontrollably.

Even Dan, who was settling into the knowledge that his jeans had prevented any real injury, was beginning to smile a little.

"Listen," my mom said, "there's no shooting people. You don't shoot your brother in the house. Do you hear me? No shooting your brother in the house."

I guess it was a reasonable new ground rule to lay down.

It was too late, though. The moment had already happened, and a moment like that lasts forever.

-Peter Wick
February 14, 2014

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

#21 - The Middle of Somewhere - Jan. 2014

I was back home in Seattle over the recent holidays, feeling completely at home and comfortable. I enjoyed the company of friends who I miss, and family who are a part of me.

It didn't feel like a year since my last visit, and I found myself promising a few friends that I would make it back a few times during the coming year.

Seattle is home. L.A. is home. These places I am familiar with.

I found myself thinking, though, about places that I've visited that are definitely not home.

My thoughts traveled back in time to a week of my life that began in Decatur, Illinois and ended in Appleton, Wisconsin.

I was in my 20's and was working a stand-up comedy tour of small-town midwest clubs. I use the word 'clubs' loosely.

The week started on Tuesday, with me driving a rental car south from Chicago into small-town Illinois, for what is still the only time of my life.

Tuesday night's gig was a one-nighter in Decatur. I arrived at the 'club' which was a small local tavern, where the regulars merely tolerated the once-a-week invasion by two stand-up comedians. I was the opening act, and I apologize to whoever followed me; I have no memory of who was loosely referred to as the 'headliner.'

My only memory of Decatur, Illinois is this tavern.

It didn't have a stage.

To perform I had to climb up onto two tables that had been placed next to each other. I did my best to get and keep the audience's attention, but I lost the battle to the Chicago Cubs. The biggest laugh of the whole night came when I gave up, dropped the microphone, and turned to watch the Cubs with them.

The next night was Rockford, Illinois, and then Thursday, Friday, and Saturday were in Appleton, Wisconsin.

I am happy to report that the gigs gradually improved through the week. Appleton was good to me.

The most striking memory of the week for me, though, was the driving; driving through Wisconsin farm country in the Summertime. It was beautiful.

It remains a vision that I can't seem too shake years later.

Sometimes those of us who live in a big city like Los Angeles (or New York or London or Paris or Tokyo or Shanghai) find ourselves feeling a little cocky about being in the middle of something; the eye of the storm; where the action is.

I like to remember another kind of middle; the middle of nowhere - which is really always somewhere.

I have to drive through smalll-town Illinois, and Wisconsin again sometime.

I plan to get out of the car at some small tavern, maybe on a weeknight when a little entertainment might be passing through town.

I plan to sit and have a beer and make a couple of local friends. I plan to celebrate life in the middle of somewhere.
-Peter Wick
January 14, 2014