Sunday Advice Column #17

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New Orleans is an inspiring city. Yesterday I got sunburned running through a cemetery, learned some firearms accuracy drills, drank sweet tea, passed a Jazz funeral, ate with an old friend, drove a fast car, and saw a giant cockroach.

I think I’ve found the best fried seafood plate of all time. It’s at a Metairie joint called Seither’s Seafood. It was one of two cheats I’m allowing myself on my plant-based diet this trip. The chef went to the same high school I did. In fact all the guys I was eating with did. Archbishop Rummel High School class members of 1995-1998 were represented (though I bounced to coed paradise in my junior year).

One of the quirks of Louisiana is that when people ask you where you went to school, they never, ever mean college. A person’s high school tells you where they lived, how much money they did or didn’t grow up with, who their friends and enemies were, and how successful they probably are now. It’s an absolutely unique phenomenon.

The best part of this trip is connecting to old friends. They can remind you of how you were, even when you’ve forgotten. Apparently I was involved in a lot more madness than I recall. I basically think of myself as a boring, mundane person, but the record stands opposed.

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The more like John Wick you are, the better.

What’s a small fact that might save your life one day?

For me, the most important thing to be clear eyed on is that your own personal safety and security is ultimately your responsibility. It can’t be outsourced. A fast response from the police is still enough time for something very bad to happen to you.

If you are able, you should learn how to defend yourself and the people you love. It’s all well and good to hope and pray for a better, safer, kinder world, but that shit is not happening because this is a planet of death. I know my time learning the basics of how to shoot and fight has been well spent. I have defended my wife from an attack, chased and caught a purse-snatcher, and pulled an attacker off of a gay man at a bar.

I am not tough. I am not even particularly well trained. I barely weigh over 150lbs. I’m not even terribly strong. But what I have is a mindset that’s prepared for the potential of violence and I have the will to unapologetically do what it takes to fuck up someone who wants to cause trouble. I don’t care about what society did to you or how hard you had it or what the media says. Fuck with me or someone I love and you’re not going to get sympathy. This is the proper way to live because this world is full of savages and the only thing they understand is savagery.

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Is there a product or service you pay more for than the average person?

Though it’s an infrequent event, I spend a ridiculous amount of money on my haircuts. Most dudes I know drop $50 max. The guy who cuts my hair is around $150. Whatever magic he performs allows me to put almost no effort into my hair. I wash it with a bar of soap and rarely comb it, but it still looks pretty good.

The other thing I blow money on is nice soap. I’m not sure why, but this is a small indulgence that just makes me happy. I don’t have a particular favorite scent, but I often enjoy things from Juniper Ridge. My all time favorite is Chandrika Ayurvedic Soap.

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Which nationality do you envy most?

I’m assuming you mean I can’t say America. Because that’s the nationality I’m most into.

Other than that. my first choice would be a black dude from a Guy Ritchie film. So I guess an English dude of African decent. Idris Elba is to my mind one of the handsomest men of all time and I imagine he has to beat women off his dick because of that accent.

For my second choice, I would go for whatever Viking blood the Norweigans/Swedes have. It would be pretty awesome to be tall and look like an elf from Lord of the Rings. No one looks tougher with an axe than a blonde, bearded giant.

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What songs make you cry?

The only song that’s ever brought a tear to my eye is Louis Armstrong’s version of What a Wonderful World. It’s a song that reminds my family and me of my Uncle Frank. It always seems to play at eerily appropriate moments and it has absolutely wrecked me more than once.

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Brexit be like.

Is there a sweet spot to visit Europe where it’s cheaper for me but the American economy hasn’t completely collapsed yet?

Thanks to fear mongering and currency manipulation from global elites, England is a great buy right now. I can’t even remember the last time the dollar had an edge over the pound. That’s where I’d be headed if I were in the mood to travel.

The second part of your question bears a little more unpacking. I think the American economy is going to strengthen over the next few years. OPEC seems to have called a truce on the secret oil war. If our leaders had the will, our military could vaporize ISIS. Our young people, despite being unbearably soft, are smart and resourceful. We are going to be fine.

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What is your favorite meal for dinner and why?

You could take this question a couple ways. The first is, “what’s your all time favorite dinner?” That would be a toss up between a medium rare ribeye steak from Prather Ranch with a sweet potato on the side and the Philly Cheeseteak from Clove & Hoof. The reason is simple, the flavor.

The second would be, “what’s your favorite meal for most of your dinners?” For the most part, I like to eat simple food. I’m essentially on a plant-based diet and I quite enjoy a dish my wife makes us all the time: rice & beans.

We serve it with olives and a vinegary hot sauce from a Puerto Rican joint called Sol Food in San Rafael. It’s essentially a peasant meal, but it is extremely cheap and covers most of our nutritional needs. Our insanely healthy morning smoothies more than cover everything else we need.

Rice & beans is something we picked up from our financial guru, Dave Ramsey. It’s his metaphor for any cheap, not too unhealthy food you eat while you’re trying to get out of debt or save money. He says, “the only time a broke person trying to get ahead should see the inside of a restaurant is if they’re working there”. I agree.

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Do you believe in ghosts?

I’m like Mulder from X-Files. I want to believe, but I have never seen even the smallest hint there are ghosts. I have had a life long interest in the paranormal and the occult and have tried the following methods of contacting the dead:

  1. I’ve taken acid in a graveyard in New Orleans with the intent of peaking beyond the veil. I figured one of America’s oldest necropolises would be a good spot, but it didn’t work.
  1. I’ve tried various Aleister Crowley and Anton Lavey style rituals. This shit really doesn’t work. You just feel like you’re playing Dungeons and Dragons with yourself while masturbating with your own virgin tears for lube.
  1. I’ve used an Ouija Board to answer questions on a take home test. I was in middle school and this seemed like a great idea. I failed the test. I should’ve cheated off the living.
  1. My grandmother took me to psychics and televangelists all the time. I saw nothing except a country ass woman lose her money to crooked woo peddlers.
  1. I’ve gotten extremely stoned and prayed/meditated/begged the darkness to part and reveal the land of the dead. No dice. But I did experience profound existential despair at the thought of blinking completely out of existence after a period of excruciating pain and sadness. Thanks weed.

So, it’s not like I didn’t try. I’ve even pitched a TV show called Evil Spirits. It’s basically Ghost Hunters meets Bar Rescue. A team of intrepid paranormal investigators would travel the world looking to drink in haunted bars after they closed. Their mission would be to tell the story of the place and find evidence of the hereafter before sunrise or they all passed out. Whichever came first.

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What would it be like if Trump tried to join the Mexican soccer team?

He would be made captain of the team. He’s hyooog in Mexico. He knows soccer. He has the best soccer balls. And his pitch is perfect. Donald Trump knows soccer. His defense will be so strong it will be like a wall. And you know what? The team’s gonna make so much money it will pay for the wall on the Mexican border. It’ll be named after the team. The Trump Mexican National Soccer Team Wall of Hyoogness.

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Do you have a path of books that you think people should follow while trying to find success?

 I’ve read a ton of the world’s important books. I was educated at a top university. My taste in literature is unapologetically highbrow. Yet I love me some self-help books. It’s probably my guiltiest pleasure.

A strong argument can be made that Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography is the first real self-help book. It borrows heavily from the Stoics and other classics, but nearly all the books in the genre after have followed its arrangement, if not its material. It’s no coincidence it’s the first book in the whole five feet of The Harvard Classics. This book is all about setting foundational, positive habits and practices.

The next book I like is Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. The real title should be How to Enrich Your Own Life By Listening to People and Helping Them.” I got a tremendous amount out of this book. It really helps with communication and sales language. Plus it makes you a better conversationalist, which can even get you laid.

Next on deck for me is Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. My wife and I completely changed our life by following this man’s simple plan. I say simple, but it has no shortcuts and requires fortitude and guts. It’s basic and effective. It’s sort of like Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength, but for your money (that Rippetoe book is worth grabbing).

A new one for me is Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. This book gave me a wakeup call about how distracted I had become. This book is one of a few that inspired this daily year of blogging. The premise is you have to be vigilant about the time you focus on important tasks. This includes shutting out junk distractions and diversions.

You remember that scene in Quenten Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds where the Bear Jew beats that Nazi to death with a baseball bat? I believe that is based on the story of a real Jewish strongman who tore a Nazi flag down from an American Nazi Party headquarters. When the Nazis ran out to get him, the man used a baseball bat to smash them. At the end of the melee 18 Nazis were KO’d.

The Spiritual Journey of Joseph L. Greenstein: The Mighty Atom World’s Strongest Man is about this man. He was an early health and strength and conditioning program who came to America with esoteric fitness knowledge learned from his time as a carney strong man’s apprentice. My friend Blake thinks carneys are travelling sex offenders, but Greenstein was a man of truly impeccable character and hard work ethic.

This book inspired me to start training again and focus on a more vegetarian diet. It’s a tremendously weird and inspiring look at a man almost no one knows about. It’s a shame because he was a good one.

I could probably write ten more blogs about this question, but I’ll give myself just one more for this post: Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. It’s my favorite of the Stoic books. It’s transcendent and practical. A truly beautiful book.

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