“Hey, brother. Can you give me a clean pee sample?”
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This will be the last “TGIF” column. It has been a great 12-year run. Well, mostly. Lord knows there were some turkeys in there over the years, but you can’t hit ’em all out of the park, and some days you’re damned lucky if you can get any wood on the ball at all. This particular column is being 86ed because of doctor’s orders in the form of an almost pleading question: “Can you change your job somewhat to avoid deadlines?” Luckily this is a weekly paper, not a daily, and, yeah, it’s possible. I will be contributing the occasional feature as my delicate condition (well documented here) allows.

There have been no “TGIF” columns since December, and my leave of absence consisted mostly of hospital stays, of which I’ve written about in excess. The concept of this thing began with the general idea of offbeat observations on the weekend, or, suggestions about what one might consider doing for leisure or entertainment. It has since gone far afield with far too much stuff about me. It has been suggested to me that I write an autobiography in my semi-retirement, but I find I am burnt out on the subject. I am playing with something like it but in fictional terms.

I am writing this in early March, and for those who have followed this page of the paper, even occasionally, you may be interested to know that I am living with my son now — a happy ending to a long apartment search. While it is in an area of town I call “Dodge City,” there are plenty of families and kids for every hooker and crack dealer. I have made friends with a few of the professional ladies while trying to avoid that syndrome common to guys my age who, around women, think of themselves as a cross between Daddy and Brad Pitt.

One neighbor, whom I don’t know from Adam, came to my door one night with a small, transparent container and (without introducing himself) asked me, “Hey, brother. Can you give me a clean pee sample?”

I stood there for a good while with a look on my face that must have resembled a pole-axed flounder, and the guy (turns out his name is Turrell) says, “I’ll give you five dollars.”

Reaching behind the door to the kitchen table, I picked up my weekly med dispenser with about 30 pills for AM and about the same for PM. I showed him the contents and told him, “Can’t help you, man. I take, like, 40 Vicodin a week, Percocet, let’s see…” I pretended to study the variety of cardiac meds I had, all of which you could crush up and snort without getting the slightest buzz. Maybe a massive headache. I pretended to riffle through the assortment, pulled out a multivitamin. While examining the thing, I asked him, “I guess amphetamines are still illegal too, right?”

“Hey, man. It’s cool. But maybe I could come back later and we could do some bidness.”

“Maybe, but I’m not a great businessman. I’m spaced out a lot, you know?”

“Sure, sure. I feel you.” And he was gone.

Having been something of a recluse for quite a while now, I no longer feel qualified to comment on neato things to do in and around San Diego on Friday nights or any other, but I’ve got this: My friend CC and his wife are going up to Hollywood, to the Theatre Asylum, on Santa Monica Boulevard, to view a stage production, running through March, of Pulp Fiction with its exact dialogue — only in Elizabethan English. You can catch 14 minutes of it on YouTube. I mention this only because it is such a bizarre idea. Not San Diego–oriented, obviously, but close enough for rock and roll and a little over an hour maybe on the I-5.

I bring it up, as well, as a contrast to anything I can imagine originating in San Diego theater. Maybe that’s unfair, or the concept of a live production of Pulp Fiction just crap anyway. But one must, I think, concede its originality and creativity.

Most of all, I have been critical of San Diego’s lack of humor about itself, à la Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, et al. There is no shortage of laughter here. But on any kind of examination, what is considered funny among America’s Finest often tends toward the level of TV commercial gags or simply the plain moronic or cornball. Now this may be true anywhere in the U.S. these days, but I’ve lived here for 31 years and have not changed my opinion.

I can hear the “boos” and raspberries already, and you’re still welcome to voice them online, by phone, or mail. Until then, thanks for reading.

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Comments

MelissaRoberts March 21, 2012 @ 5:29 p.m.

I'm going to miss Mr. Brizzolara's funny, witty, and informative writing...the Reader is definitely losing a gem of a feature in TGIF but I hope to see future submissions from this talented author. I wish him the best & will be praying for his health. Thank you for all you've contributed to not only the Reader, but to San Diego as a whole.

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David Dodd March 21, 2012 @ 7 p.m.

I'll miss you, you're one hell of a writer. But every once in a while, throw us a bone? That would be, selfishly, much appreciated. Be well, John.

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MsGrant March 21, 2012 @ 7:26 p.m.

John, I've been reading your column for years, and ONLY because they were about you. I could not give a crap about San Diego "lite" - I preferred the real stuff. I really hope you keep writing for the Reader. One of my favorite memories will always be us having lunch at Whole Foods and you telling me about your dad. You stay well.

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Twister March 21, 2012 @ 7:35 p.m.

Forsooth, those of us longer in the tooth, including your faithful and obedient servant having resided in the county for yea, two score and four and upon this flat plane for many, many more, do ordain thee, aye, the most plucky and puckish of jesters--say I, the fool, a determined knave amongst the lords of the El Camino Realm, who yet reign in golden raiment above us all.

In fealty to his highass, the Lord Mayor, the Grand Grinding Machine (or is it a mere Sander he be?) remain,

Yr. Ob't. Sv't., The Twister

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Javajoe25 March 21, 2012 @ 11:12 p.m.

John,

When I suggested you double-down on the antidepressants, I certainly did not intend for you to work your way through your entire medicine cabinet. In any case, whatever blend of prescriptive chemistry you happen to settle on, I sincerely hope you find the cure for what ails you.

I too will miss your unique voice and commentary on life here in Dago. I will look forward to any future contributions you care to toss us and wish you well in your new digs with your son. Hopefully, he will enjoy and appreciate the wisdom his old man brings to the house--at least enough so to put up with your grumpy ass.

Keep ém coming, Brizz...and we'll catch you after the ampersand.

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Jay Allen Sanford March 22, 2012 @ 2:14 a.m.

It wouldn't be the same Reader without your unique and always entertaining takes - I hope you continue to brighten up these pages (printed and digital) with your contributions for a long time to come!

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David Elliott March 22, 2012 @ 2:29 p.m.

John, you ended the column with true personal style, always rightly the main thing and so vividly achieved for so many years. After she left the New Yorker, Pauline Kael was inevitably asked if she would write a memoir and replied, "I think I have." Her body of work was the best X-ray of her life, as it nearly always is for all real columnists and critics. I salute your achievement, and wish you well in the medical zone and all others.

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M. E. March 22, 2012 @ 3:48 p.m.

Geezus, John. Don't let on that you have Vicodin and Percocet. That s**t is gold. He must have been looking with wide eyes at the "contents" that you volunteered.

And then, "I’m spaced out a lot, you know?"

And -- do I need to say this? -- don't answer the door to a stranger, esp. in a bad neighborhood.

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EricBlair March 23, 2012 @ 3:18 p.m.

I don't know if you will read this, John. I first met you in 1988 or so in San Diego, in a not-so-pleasant time in my life. You were a good fellow at the time, and became a wise and valued friend---something of a metaphorical "older brother." After I moved away in 1995, we spoke less and less, and things became more and more challenging for you. But I have always appreciated and valued your friendship.

So I will miss seeing your columns. I haven't heard from you in at least two years, but I well remember the fun stories and entertaining escapades we shared. So I wanted to say that I---and a lot of people---wish you well.

And I hope that you will drop me a line sometime. Thanks for the writing, the fellowship, and the friendship, even from a couple of thousand miles away.

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xians421 March 23, 2012 @ 8:22 p.m.

Even though I will miss your weekly column, I have truly enjoyed our friendship and even the adventures of my attempts to get you into rehab. The hospital escapes, appearing at my front door seemingly out of nowhere, while others may cringe at those sights and smells, these are just the bonuses of being your friend. I will miss the print version of you, but what most of the others don't know is that you in real life are five times more hilarious and truly inspirational. See you tomorrow BooBoo.

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chuck39 March 25, 2012 @ 3:15 p.m.

I have read your column for years,my favorite was do it yourself detox,which reminds me,we watched the days of wine & roses down stairs on elm.go figure.

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NotQuiteADiva March 25, 2012 @ 4:15 p.m.

At the risk of getting my face kicked in once again, I would just like to say I have long been an admirer. Make no mistake; TGIF has always been about you, about your unique voice, about harrowing tales from the darker side of life: there but for the grace of god go I... Thankfully, you are not dead yet. Now is the time for something in longer form, yes?

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fleeting_1 March 25, 2012 @ 6:42 p.m.

John- A voice from another, more innocent time and place is sorry, like many others, to read your final column here.

Personally, I liked "far afield." Anyone can write about local fare and entertainment. Anyone can't offer what you do. You have a way of uncovering the human condition - including your own - revealing wounds and scars through your wry wit and humor.

Having known you back in the late sixties and a brief encounter 20 years later - I had a bit of connection to some of your recollection of that time.

Best of luck, old friend, and good health. I'd beg you to take care, but you haven't in all these years - so why start now?

I'll miss your mind via the written word - but, since this isn't a eulogy - I'm betting we haven't heard the last from you! Beth

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FatCatSegat March 26, 2012 @ 8:32 a.m.

Wha?!... you're leaving? I know you've put yourself through quite alot the past few years,[which I totally understand!] and I assume that like most impulsive journalists, you've traveled along the path of discovery under the guise of research. Your self imposed path of destruction has been inspirational and perversely informative. At times I've wanted you gone from print asking myself why we were privy to your downfalls and intentional stumblings. Well, as a recovering addict, I get it now. Your health comes first as I'm beginning to understand now. Have some more fun with yourself and I'll always read anything you've got! Peace Out Mah ninja!

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Reader_reader March 26, 2012 @ 4:33 p.m.

Hope you'll at least continue to write feature articles from time to time.

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Joules March 27, 2012 @ 8 a.m.

John, you never know about your impact on others so please take care of yourself. I appreciated your presence at Hunter's Bookstore back in the late 80's. I read one of your books on our drive to Columbus, OH, where we lived for 364 days, rushing back to San Diego with joy on Day 365. Wish I'd picked up the Reader sooner than 2011 so I could've read more TGIF. Best wishes for your continued recovery. I know the deadline thing is a problem but how about a group blog where you wouldn't have to contribute too often? -- Julie

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charts March 27, 2012 @ 5:51 p.m.

I was going through some old reunion material and came across some of your cartoons from when you were positive though cynical. They were fresh and always amusing. You've taken a few twists and turns since. Well keep on breathing, it's what God ultimately gave us, a life.

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kmsound March 28, 2012 @ 12:25 a.m.

John, missed you for years, thought about you many times. Excited by finding you again and reading your stories. Disappointed when you'd miss a wk. Devastated there will be no more! W/your gift of gab and the written word, not to mention your personal slant on life ,I would love to hear your original music. Maybe you can put your creative juices back in that direction, having no deadlines, except like me before the final deadline! I am posting this photo, because I have already sent one to you, but for your friends and fans here, so they can see yet another side of a vary complex character ! (Sorry about the misspelling of your name!) A Renaissance man in a time when people have there hands full just trying to do one thing right! This is the way I will always remember you!

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brizzola March 30, 2012 @ 12:42 p.m.

John, or John E Guitar as I once called you, I am saddened by this announcement since it is the only way I get any info about you at all. As your sister, in Chicago, by the way my name is Amy in case you totally forgot, I received email notices when your column was published. I'm not even sure if you will see this posting. If you do read this, I will not expect a reply or contact from you. Never quite understood why you chose to x me out of your life. I never wanted that to happen. I tried. I love you. I wish things were different. Was in NY last week and saw Andrew. He remembers you too. My heart aches from loosing 2 brothers for reasons we might have been able to change but never did. Peace brother. I think of you often.

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brendadubov April 15, 2012 @ 12:17 a.m.

John, I was soaking in a hot tub, easing away the pains of the day when you came to mind. I googled you and found this column. I guess it's fitting my note to you comes below the one from Amy as she was how I met you some twenty six years ago. One of the handsomest, most tormented men I've ever met. Just my type back then. Some people that cross our paths briefly slip away without a long term memory of them others for what ever the reason stay with us. You were one of the latter. A nice New Year's Eve, drunken late night phone calls, a trip to Tijuana when I was in California visiting a friend. There was something about you that stayed with me and came bubbling to the top as my mind free floated in the heat of that bath. I've read the other notes to you. It seems you've touched a lot of peoples lives in a positive way. Some people just do. Don't know what you're going through right now as you face physical frailty, but I hope you find your way to a place where it's quiet both in and out, It's your life you get to do with it as you want.

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coyotee April 28, 2012 @ 5:50 p.m.

Hmmm . . . handsome . . . tormented . . . recluse . . . talented . . . quirky . . . grumpy . . . sounds like the guy I knew from Chicago. I'd heard your address was under a bridge. Then I heard sisters had searched & found your writings in these pages.

Don't know the ailments that are currently attacking but I wish you well.

Glad to see you've touched so many hearts. Some with the thousand-year stare have long-buried hopes and dreams that I'm sure you've nudged a time or two.

If you didn't receive my direct email from this site (danged stupid systems to sign up with then you've forgetten what you'd said & don't know if it went thru or if you have to send it again . . . gripe gripe gripe), I'll send it again in a week or so.

Seems a great oak in our family has fallen. Maybe you'd like a copy of the obit his daughter put together.

A Colorado cousin

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