I’ll see my son Saturday, probably, along with the woman I married in the summer of 1977.
  • I’ll see my son Saturday, probably, along with the woman I married in the summer of 1977.
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My son will turn 33 this August, on a Friday coming up. It is a significant age for a man, at least in Christianity, and it is one-third of 100 years. He was born in 1977 in New York City at Beth Israel Hospital. It was the summer of Sam; that is, David Berkowitz and his talking dog. A blackout occurred in the city that summer. I got married that summer as ­well.

I ­haven’t seen my son, nor have I spoken with him, in too many months. Not that there is the slightest trace of any animosity between us; ­it’s just that it has been a hideous year, surpassed in its chaotic bummers only by the year before. Maybe it is the other way around. Anyway, long ­story.

In rehab again. They finally let me go to work a little this morning. I’ve had cancer, still have three different heart diseases, and alcoholism. Give me heart disease and cancer every ­time.

­I’m the only guy in my platoon of ostensibly recovering drunks with some sort of job. We all live in the same apartment complex in City Heights, amid liquor stores, porno shops, and a nudie bar. A shooting two blocks away last Saturday night brought multiple squad cars and two ambulances. The next night it was a drunken brawl in the alley during which one guy got his head kicked open then got in his car and drove away, cursing the other guy, whom he seemed to know. A roommate of mine from the Midwest was asking me which neighborhoods in San Diego to stay away from to increase the odds of recovery. I told him, without irony, “This ­one.”

Just got off the phone with my son. Sounded great. Wants to get an apartment together again. I told him yeah, “In January, okay?” He said, “Yeah, okay.” I now feel better than I have in too many months. ­I’ll see him Saturday, probably, along with the woman I married in the summer of 1977. Sometimes I think that getting married is like getting fat: everybody should do it…once.

I see that Ted Nugent is coming to town: 4th&B on the 12th. My lovely former assistant, the Specialist (she is now the lovely assistant of Amazo the Magician and gets sawed in half every Friday and Saturday night with matinees on Sunday), said of Nugent, “A once-handsome maniac who turned into one of the weirdest-looking mothers on Earth.” I saw the guitarist in 1968 with the Amboy Dukes. This was at the Electric Theater on Lawrence Street in Chicago, where I spent a lot of time tripping my brains out. Nugent wore cowboy boots, white pants, and suspenders pulled over his shirtless torso. He strutted and pranced around on the dance floor playing — I ­don’t know — a Gibson L5 maybe. Full of himself, this guy, I thought. I was more than vaguely disgusted at the display of ego, so I turned away and conversed with my ­hallucinations.

Lewis Black will be at Pala Casino (some ways east on State Route 76) on Saturday the 14th. He is a guy who may be funnier live than on television these days. I hope so. Not long ago, I thought he was right on, but he seems to me to be another of those guys who have become a parody of themselves. It has been pointed out to me that I’m a harsh judge of other people. ­I’m actually working on ­that.

Another thing ­I’m working on is not speaking much. First of all, you can’t learn anything if ­you’re talking; and ­it’s hard enough to learn anything at my age. Secondly, most times I open my mouth (and I’m asked to in rehab and at 12-step meetings now and then), I get looks as if what ­I’m saying is pretentious, impenetrable, and recondite. It may be, but I ­don’t mean it to be. That roommate from the Midwest approached me holding a thesaurus and told me ­I’m a librettist. I told him ­I’ve never written an opera, and he told me the word meant simply “writer.” It is not altogether a source of pride that anyone feels they have to approach me with a thesaurus. I may stop using the word recondite as ­well.

This fast-approaching weekend is the first ­I’ve looked forward to in many moons. Not only the first weekend, the first anything ­I’ve looked forward to over a cold winter (for here) and what until now has been a bleak summer. ­I’m thinking a little differently lately, and ­I’m grateful it ­isn’t hot or muggy — but also that I still have something to complain ­about.

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David Dodd Aug. 4, 2010 @ 12:27 p.m.

This is the John Brizzolara I've been waiting to read for quite some time now. Stay on it, John, there are a lot of good people behind you, plenty of good people willing to be by your side, and a lot of good times in front of you.


EricBlair Aug. 4, 2010 @ 4:08 p.m.

Dear John: great to see your writing. Greater to read that you are trying to work your way out of the dark places. Thinking of you, remembering happier times, and much laughter.

We all become prisoners of our own paradigms: how we want to be perceived becomes a walled moat. You have experienced people putting you into their vision of who you are supposed to be (according to them).

Like Howard Waldrop wrote of Hemingway---the style became first a selling point, then a crutch, and finally a prison.

But me, I always liked John Brizzolara as he was. Funny fellow, with a lot of heart. It sounds like he is coming back.


Bookwarren Aug. 4, 2010 @ 4:37 p.m.

Keep writing. Whenever I don't see your column in the Reader, I worry that you might have had a heart attack or overdosed. I'll never forget the night I found you under the bushes outside my door.


kmsound Aug. 4, 2010 @ 10:03 p.m.

John, sounds like you're in a good spirits and writing like you're enjoying it again. If you would, please email me. I know our last meeting was not a good one, but that was so many yrs ago. Let me admit I am a different person now. It's been a long time and we have both been through things that have made us change, weather we wanted to or not. I have good memories about when we played together. Ken Minahan [email protected]

Rick Charts would also like to hear from you. [email protected]


nan shartel Aug. 10, 2010 @ 10:28 a.m.

ur complaints taste like chocolate mousse or creme brule John...so nice to see ya forging ahead with the writing and smiling some...best Nan


SDaniels Aug. 15, 2010 @ 1:30 a.m.

re: #1: Beat me to it, refried! Select sentiments of others echoed as well. ;)

So, we're on book recommendations? I'll mix well wishes with my usual drumbeat on Beckett: So congratulations on your "I can't go on. I'll go on." That's the way. For those reading who are not familiar with a close read or with Beckett, there's a double entendre there: "to go on" physically, and verbally, as we readers would wish for Brizz. The talking cure? No cure--no one ever claimed that--the talking, like the disease (insert your disease here, or just write "life"), is interminable until it just stops.

Beckett is your best friend, whether you know it or not. Dare I be really annoyingly presumptuous and insist, he’s the one you were reaching for in those ‘Bye John’ letters of previous columns?

Do I really have to write a book jacket, then? Ok! Here goes:

Beckett turns that soulless cry in the night into a philosophical giggle; he strips the decadents of their excessive frippery and returns the incessant chattiness of existentialists right back over to them with the turn of a bicycle wheel, and a spasmodic narrator never failing and ever falling to rest in a ditch--or to start talking again.

Last I personally saw, you understandably chose Whitman’s bear hug over Beckett's boniness. Let your non-textual friends give you the bear hugs, and put the old yawpster down a bit, for one whose prickliness will be closer to your own heart.


SDaniels Aug. 15, 2010 @ 2:52 a.m.

Cheesy enough? I forgot specific recommends! Refried, you too. For our alleged lunch--which is now looking more like fiction than an occasion to discuss it--I would read a book of your choice if you would read a selection of Beckett, trying a couple of the plays and maybe attempting some of a novel?

Short drama:

"Eh Joe"

"Not I"

Longer Drama:

Endgame (absolute best)



(choosing this later novel over the trio of Molloy, Malone Dies, and Unnamable because that's a lot to read without being originally self-motivated to do it, and because Watt is a mature development of his writing style aned voice (well, one of them ;)

That's enough!


SDaniels Aug. 15, 2010 @ 2:53 a.m.

russl, deary, writes me. I'm on a loooooooong grading stint...


EricBlair Aug. 15, 2010 @ 2:59 p.m.

Odd. I seem to have found another post by JB on one day, and then it was taken down. Did I dream it? This post is the most current one up, but I swear to you that there was another one on Wednesday for a few hours. Oh well.


David Dodd Aug. 15, 2010 @ 6:04 p.m.

@ Eric: On Wednesdays, I generally hit the site at about 1PM knowing there will be new content. I habitually check TGIF first, and I didn't find anything new this issue. Just an FYI.


EricBlair Aug. 16, 2010 @ 11:53 p.m.

Mr. Gringo...I think that there was something there by John that was removed. Doing a Google search yielded this:

But when you click on it, there is nothing on the Reader's website.


David Dodd Aug. 17, 2010 @ 12:21 a.m.

That's quite odd. If there was any actual content there at any point, I would think that the "cache" link would have brought it up. Perhaps they're saving it for publication in this Wednesday's edition. I know that many of the columns are written well in advance...


Reader Staff Aug. 17, 2010 @ 12:47 a.m.

Temporary glitch. The story's back online:



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