Wednesday, November 30, 2011

THE DUI DIARY: Chapter Four

Whoops! Things are looking very good? Maybe not. My second court date did not go quite so well. There were a few good things, but for the most part, everything is starting to go downhill.

Once again, Steve delayed my case until the very end, since it was probably going to take longer than the other cases that day. I spent most of my morning sitting with my Elmore Leonard, sweating in the lobby, wishing my suit wasn’t so hot. Finally, when I was called in, I watched Steve finish up with the cop. The officer seemed a bit more composed, like perhaps he’d done his homework this time, but it wasn’t good enough. Steve beat him like a gong. There were a lot more I-don’t-knows and I-don’t-recalls. He had to be reminded several times as to what he’d written in his own police report.

Then, the worm turned. Steve decided to play the footage of my field sobriety test. Keep in mind that both he and I know about my leg, and no one else does. The judge came around the bench so he could watch the screen. Instead of watching what I’d already lived through, I watched the judge, and I did not like what I saw.

He was shaking his head. Grimacing. Looking at me incredulously. Some of his expressions were almost comical. I forced myself to stare straight ahead. I bit the insides of my cheeks to prevent myself from smiling.

The DVD ended, and the judge took his seat. It was 12:15, close to closing time, but he wanted to get this hearing over with. We were to return at 1:30 for the conclusion.

Once outside the court, Steve said that he didn’t think that went well. Looking back, the judge had no idea he was supposed to be keeping an eye out for my bum leg, so it wasn’t surprising to see that he wasn’t thinking very highly of me. As such, I thought it might have been a good idea to skip the field sobriety test. But no, if we hadn’t shown it, it would have looked like we were trying to hide it. Steve said he was going to have me testify when we got back. He wasn’t sure if that was going to do the trick, but he felt it necessary.

I spent my hour at McDonald’s, and when I got back, Steve was a bit late. He apologized, saying he’d been back at the office with the other two lawyers, brainstorming. He didn’t say for sure, but I think he thought that I had about a 50-50 chance.

Court reconvened (and we didn’t have to stand up this time), and I was called to testify. I was asked about my crooked right foot. How long has it been this way? All my life. Does it cause me to walk funny? You bet. I’m not very balanced because of this. I wouldn’t be able to keep my foot straight during a field sobriety test.

Steve then had me demonstrate my walk, which I did, and it seemed that the judge really didn’t give much of a fuck about it.

Steve gave his closing remarks, and it was really a beautiful thing to behold. The man was on fire. Classic Greek orators wouldn’t be able to hold a candle to him. Cicero was a fucking amateur compared to Steve. I thought he was very convincing, far more convincing than the prosecutor. While he was pretty well spoken, the prosecutor hemmed and hawed about a few things.

After all this, the judge looked down at us all and said that he thought I’d been drunk as a skunk, that I had absolutely bombed the field sobriety test. He said it so vehemently that I thought he was going to throw the book at me. All of a sudden, I realized that I was not going to be able to drive FOR SURE for 30 days. Then, I’d have to get that fucking BAIID, which I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to afford.

But what made him hesitate? you ask. A little something called the Fourth Amendment. Remember, the officer was only supposed to check my license, my insurance, and give my car a cursory examination, then let me go. If there was evidence of any other crime, he should investigate. However, he said in his own report that he detected the FAINT odor of alcohol, and that I had admitted to drinking ONE beer (at that time).

“If he had said he hadn’t been drinking, I’d be suspicious,” the judge said. “But he said he’d just had one beer. A faint odor of alcohol seems consistent with that.” He went on to state that when I wasn’t doing the sobriety tests, I was conducting myself quite well. I hadn’t had any difficulty in getting out of the car, and I walked pretty well over to the testing area. My speech was not slurred in the slightest.

The question comes down to this: is the faint odor of alcohol and the admission of drinking one beer enough to take a driver out of his car and make him take the field sobriety test? It is not illegal to drink and drive. It is illegal to drink over the .08 limit and drive. Who doesn’t have an occasional beer at dinner and then drive somewhere? If the faint odor of alcohol was enough for this treatment, then the legal limit should be .00 rather than .08.

This is the dilemma the judge found himself in, and he asked the lawyers if there was any legal precedent for a case like mine. There were other DUI cases that had a few things in common with mine, but nothing quite as similar.

The judge told us that he would reserve judgment for a week. He wanted to see some kind of legal precedent before making a decision. We would reconvene on Monday for the final verdict on my suspension.

The problem is, my suspension was supposed to start the following day. They wouldn’t delay it, though, so I have to eat a few days of it. It will suck for two days (as I have to be at work on those days), but hopefully on Monday the judge will see me in a more favorable light.

There is probably not any legal precedent for my situation. Steve researched the case pretty well, so I’m fairly confident of this. If indeed there isn’t another case like mine, mine will probably be a precedent in itself. Yes, years from now lawyers will talk about Bruni v. the State of Illinois.

Holy Christ, could I possibly be a hero for those who might wind up like me? Am I a trailblazer? Is there wisdom in my booze-addled brain? Stand back! Pay attention. You might learn something.

Join me next time, for when I take a final roll of the dice and see what pops up. Well, it won’t be final. This is just for the suspension. The real guts of the DUI case is still yet to come.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

THE DUI DIARY: Chapter Three

I was only able to get $540 together, but it would be enough. They told me I could pay whatever I could afford each time I saw them, just so long as I was all paid up on the last court date. Armed with this cash, I put on my suit of armor. Well, okay, it was just a suit, and it was kind of big for me. I used to weigh 306 pounds, and that was when I got the suit. I’m down to 220, so it hangs off me. One way or the other, I was dressed to win. This is the kind of outfit blood-thirsty people wear when they go to court.

Fortified with a breakfast of Pop Tarts and Tang, I hit the road and got to court early. Yes, I am a very punctual person. Impression is everything. Besides, if there were any problems, I wanted my lawyer to have plenty of time to talk with me.

When I got into the courtroom, where I was to meet my lawyer, I settled in and looked around at my fellow defendants. I was surprised by how many people chose not to wear suits. Many were in t-shirts and jeans. One fellow was wearing his finest soccer shirt. Another was wearing a stained, ripped Slayer shirt. Almost everyone had a dull look in their eyes. It was as if they’d already accepted that they were guilty and were going to have to pay up. Either that, or they were intoxicated on their court date, which I wouldn’t discount. I didn’t smell alcohol, but more than a few individuals seemed to be on the nod.

I don’t think it comes as any surprise that I was the only one in that courtroom who was there to fight the charges against me. One by one, these hangdog people went up to the judge and offered their throats up to be torn out. Maybe they were right to. Maybe the evidence was too much for them.

But not for me. I came ready to roll the bones, and I was excited.

Remember when I was in the drunk tank? There were two guys in the cell next to mine, if you’ll recall. One of them was with me in court, the guy who’d blown .23. Apparently, he’d gone with Don, as well, but since he’d blown, he was here for his punishment. He went up, pled guilty, and was clubbed down like a baby seal. Suddenly, I was very glad that I hadn’t taken the breathalyzer.

My lawyer found me and pulled me out of the courtroom. It wasn’t Earl, and it wasn’t Don, so I decided he must be Steve. And, of course, I was right. Steve sat me down outside and started going over my case. As it turned out, all the paperwork on the roadblock was good, so it was perfectly legal for them to stop me. However, looking over the officer’s paperwork, he came to the conclusion that certain procedures were not followed correctly. It was possible to get this thing thrown out because of this. He also notified me that there actually was footage of my field sobriety test. Chances were, we could go ahead without viewing it, but he wanted to get a glance at it and was looking for a DVD player.

He then gave me the officer’s official report and said he was going to consult with his other client. I looked over the paperwork and grinned. The officer was using an old journalist trick to make me look like a fool. When a reporter wants to make an interviewee look good, he cleans up the “uh’s” and “ah’s” and “um’s” and stammers and stutters when he quotes the person. However, when the reporter doesn’t like the poor bastard, he leaves it as is.

Most people use these verbal crutches. Even the President of the U.S. uses them. I’ll wager that 99% of the people reading this use them, as do I (which is why I’m a writer, not a public speaker or a radio host). To exploit this seems to me to be a bit shady. It makes me think the writer is trying to cover his bases (and his ass).

I was also shocked to find that he’d reported a complete and total failure of the whole field sobriety test. I knew I’d done bad with the balancing stuff, and the alphabet one was kind of iffy, but the finger-eye test? I was certain I’d done well. He said I hesitated a little bit. Also, even though I got all the letters of the alphabet correct, I paused for a second between P and Q, which failed me.

Isn’t that ridiculous? I think this test is geared toward making everyone fail. It reminds me of the old Bill Hicks bit about sobriety tests. “Okay, now do the alphabet backwards. Now touch your nose. Now do calculus.” Shit, if that’s all they want, why not be obvious?

Anyway, I went over the report, and Steve was still with the other client. He said the judge wouldn’t call me for a while, so I should wait outside. Luckily, I had a book with me. I never go anywhere without one. If there’s anything in the world I hate, it’s being bored with nothing to do. I’ll read while waiting for a movie to begin, waiting at stop lights, hell, sometimes while even driving.

I whipped out Jim Thompson’s THE KILL-OFF, which kept me entertained for about an hour and a half, at which point Steve said he’d found a DVD player. We settled in to watch my field sobriety test, which was kind of weird. Honestly, I thought I’d look like a gibbering fool, but as it turned out, I was conducting myself pretty well.

At one point, the officer turned me around, and I saw myself from behind. Why hasn’t anyone told me how baggy my pants are? It is not a deliberate fashion statement, I assure you. Well, like I said, I used to weigh 306 pounds, and I haven’t bought any new pants in a while. I think I should probably get on that immediately.

While I’m poking fun at my non-existent fashion sense, I should also note that I’ve never really thought about my denim jacket before. It doesn’t really look good on me, which is unfortunate, considering how I’ve been wearing denim jackets since freshman year of high school. Since 1992, for those who care or are keeping score.

Steve didn’t care about what I was wearing. He was too busy doing important things, like watching how I was performing. “That’s not so bad,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot worse. This should be a breeze.”

I stumbled a few times while walking the line, and I kept putting my arms up to restore my balance. I could see why the officer might have thought I needed to be arrested. If only I’d thought to mention my crooked right foot to the officer at the time, I might not have had to put up with all of this.

“Why didn’t you?” Steve asked.

I really hadn’t thought of it at the time. I was too busy trying not to fail the stupid sobriety test. Besides, I don’t think the officer would have believed me.

“Good,” he said. “The judge is going to want to know why. You tell him that, and be firm. Don’t shrug and don’t say things like ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I guess,’ just be firm.”

This was good advice, and I was glad he was my lawyer.

We went back in, and I sat for a while, watching more cases. Since I was actually going to get a hearing, they decided to save me for last, so I got to see a lot of defendants get slain. The only interesting case was another hearing. They actually had a nurse as a witness, in addition to another Lisle cop. Apparently, the defendant got out of hand, so the officer had to mace her. But she had an allergic reaction, so they rushed her to the hospital, where they tried to get blood and piss from her for a variety of tests. The woman faked the urine test, but they got her on the blood test. The nurse didn’t know a lot, and the cop hemmed and hawed, so they weren’t able to reach a decision on the case.

Finally, I was up. They called the arresting officer to the stand, and Steve started hammering him with questions. It was a delight to watch. The officer was able to fend for himself pretty well, as he was well spoken, but he answered too many questions with “I don’t know” and “I don’t recall.” When he was asked about procedure, he didn’t remember some of it, despite the packet he was given on the night of my arrest. He also admitted to having a “brain fart” when he asked me to walk the line. He didn’t get the starting position correct.

Things were really looking up. Steve started in with my crooked foot when the ref rang the bell. 12:15. It was time for the court to close down. This was going to be continued at a later date? Yeah, I was disappointed, too. Steve was getting ready to deliver his knockout punch, and it would now have to wait.

The judge asked the officer when he’d be available, and the officer told him that he was free on the 23rd. Steve objected to this immediately because my suspension was scheduled to begin on the 17th. After a bit of talk, they settled on the 16th.

On the way out, Steve told me that things were looking really good. It was too early to be certain, but considering the officer’s neglect of certain procedures and his uncertain answers to some of Steve’s questions, he thought I had a good chance.

I was impressed with Steve’s professionalism. He went at the officer like a bulldog, and didn’t let up. And the prosecutor only objected once (which was overruled), which I think is a good sign. Apparently, the police are only supposed to check your license, your insurance, and to make sure that your car is in legal working order. Then, you should be sent on your way. This did not happen with me. He detained me a bit longer than he should have, making conversation, and then he said that he detected a “faint” odor of alcohol. Steve says it usually takes a “strong” odor of alcohol to be forced into the field sobriety test.

Steve went on to say that “faint” is usually an indicator of beer intake, rather than anything stronger, which would back up my story of only having two beers. He also said that it’s not illegal to drink and drive, it’s just illegal to drive when you have more than a .08 BAC. This, combined with the fact that I was not slurring my words at all, that my speech was very clear throughout the evening, showed that I was not driving under the influence, and that I should not have been given the sobriety test.

So, yes, things are looking very good.


Monday, November 28, 2011

THE DUI DIARY: Chapter Two

I drove out to Wheaton to meet with Earl, one of the lawyers who works with Don. He was full of good news, and some bad. There was no way around the summary suspension of my license for 12 months due to not blowing, but it was possible to get it dismissed. He told me that if he was successful at that, it would cost an extra thousand dollars. It sounded like it was worth it.

He explained that DUI charges were both civil and criminal. First, the civil shit must be beaten down, and then the criminal. If convicted, I could go to jail for a year, get stuck with $2,500 worth of fees, have to attend DUI classes, and have my license suspended and a breathalyzer attached to my car. That this is my first offense is a good sign, and that I didn’t blow also gives me a leg up. It doesn’t hurt that I’m going before a good judge. Earl did, however, disabuse me of the idea that the arresting officer wouldn’t show up for court. He was pretty certain that the officer would. However, he also said that so-called “safety” checks had a lot of loopholes, and he was going to search and make sure that the roadblock was 100% legal. If the cops forgot even one minor detail, the roadblock would be deemed null and void, and my case would be dismissed.

Earl told me that police look at three different things to determine whether or not a person is drunk. One: They consider how badly the person was weaving over lanes or violating any other traffic laws. Two: They consider the results of any chemical tests, including the breathalyzer. Three: They take a look at the field sobriety test. In my case, I was stopped at a roadblock, so number one is out. I did not blow, so number two is out. The only thing they have to build on is the field sobriety test, and there is a pretty good chance I can beat it, thanks to my crooked right foot. I needed to get pictures of my feet for evidence.

Earl then described what would happen if I wound up getting court supervision as a verdict. I would have to keep clean, pay my fines, attend DUI classes, and attend a victims panel (which, I assume, means that victims of drunk driving will preach at me about the dangers of what I’ve allegedly done). I would rather not get stuck with all the bills for this, so I told him I wanted to fight this thing to the bitter end, no matter how far we had to go.

He was glad that I came in to see him so early. It gave him all the time he needed to start filing for subpoenas regarding the information the police had to surrender to him. He told me that cops are kind of care-free about giving up the information, so he wanted to file as soon as possible.

Before I met with Earl, I knew I’d be going with these lawyers. I knew the minute I stepped into their lobby and saw all the thank you cards stapled to the walls from satisfied customers. As soon as I learned that Don was the first and only lawyer to argue a DUI case in the fucking U.S. SUPREME COURT, I knew he had the balls required to work for me. He even has a painting on the wall of him standing before the Justices.

It helped that Earl said they were flexible with my payments. Their retainer fee is $2,500, but they just need $250 up front. After that, I should pay the lawyer at each court session whatever I can scrounge together. (Just as long as I’m all paid up by the last court appearance.) In addition to the $1,000 (if they overturn my suspension), there would be an additional $1,500 if we go to a bench trial (which we will) and win (which I hope we will). If we wind up going to a jury trial (which is not likely) and we win, I would owe them $2,500. It all seemed pretty reasonable.

I only had $150 on me, but Earl sounded eager to go after the Lisle police, so he went to talk to Don, to see if they could start working on my case. The man himself came in and introduced himself to me. $150 was fine to start with. I’ve never been late with a payment on any of my bills, and I’ve always paid debts on time. My record was clean. They were willing to work with me.

I surrendered my money, and we went to work . . . .

When I got home, I found a stack of envelopes in my mailbox. There were about thirty of ‘em, and they were all from DUI lawyers. Since I had already found representation, I thought about throwing them all out. Then, just out of curiosity, I opened them up and started reading.

They might as well have all sent me the same form letter. They all had the same things to say about the same clients and the same lawyers’ backgrounds. Each and every one of them had been a DUI prosecutor for years before becoming DUI defenders.

I looked at Don’s background. Guess what? He was never a prosecutor. In other words, he was never the Enemy. He always knew in his heart what he wanted to do.

I threw out the envelopes. Fuck those people. I already had someone who was willing to defend me to the fullest extent.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

THE DUI DIARY: Chapter One

(This is dedicated to all of my fellow lepers. I don’t mean the assholes who got themselves so fucked up that they went out and got someone hurt. I mean those of us who can drink and drive with absolute skill. We are a dying breed, and we are unjustly prosecuted. Here’s to you. Raise a glass of Wild Turkey 101 (or whatever), because this is to your safety.)

[ONE FINAL NOTE: I’ve decided to not give my lawyers’ full names. I’m not sure if they would view this as good publicity or not, but I want to play it safe. I will only be referring to them by their first names. If I have learned anything over these last few years, it’s not to fuck with people who deal with the court system on a daily basis. If you really, really want to know who they are, and you can’t figure it out from the context, contact me. Contact me if you ever need DUI help at all. I will send you in the direction of my team of bloodthirsty lawyers, and they will help you.]

Even I have to admit that it must have looked bad. There I was, reeking of alcohol, wearing my MODERN DRUNKARD t-shirt and a string of beads with the Dos Equis symbol at the end. Yeah, the police officer probably thought I was ripe for the picking. Maybe he was right.

Let’s rewind a bit, back to Mullen’s in Lisle. It’s a horrid bar where the service is rotten and the drinks are overpriced, but it’s pretty much the only place Fitz goes out to (I can never get him to the Spring Inn, a wonderful bar where the service is golden and the drinks are priced just right). Maybe he likes it because the waitresses are extremely hot. I don’t know. But it is also host (on Friday nights) to Brandon’s DJ company, and Brandon is an awesome guy. If not for him (and, of course, the hot waitresses), Mullen’s would have nothing to offer to the world. [For those of you thinking litigiously, I hereby label this paragraph as a “restaurant review.”]

Before I headed out to Mullen’s, I pre-gamed a little at home, I pre-gamed some more at Fitz’s place, and then I was ready to rip out throats at the bar itself. There were rumors that Sherman of Q101 fame would be there giving out swag and concert tickets, and as it turned out, they were not rumors. There he was, up on stage with Brandon, trying to convince people to get up and sing. He was bribing them with concert tickets, a free pint of Dos Equis, and the Dos Equis beads. I wasn’t interested in any of it, except the free beer. I’m not a Dos Equis guy, but what the hell? A free beer is a free beer.

But I was only interested in my performance. I filled out the slip and handed it to Brandon. Not long later, Sherman was calling my name, and I took to the stage.

I should explain that Mullen’s was pissed off at me for events of the previous weekend. They did not appreciate my duet with a blow-up doll, and they really didn’t appreciate me dancing with her to other people’s songs and ultimately making out with her when enough people had pointed and laughed at me. [Speaking of which, when are you going to get off your ass, Derek? You need to post my performance on YouTube! I know you’re reading this! Do it! Now!] [NOTE: This was written a long time ago. The footage was indeed posted to someone’s Facebook, but not by Derek. THE FOOL!] But the management at Mullen’s were pussies about it. They didn’t say a word to me, they didn’t cut me off, they didn’t 86 me. But they bitched and complained to Brandon after I was gone. Fuckin’ scum. Well, they are essentially Brandon’s paycheck, so I promised not to bring the doll out again, and to also keep it relatively clean.

Which is a shame, because I was planning on bringing my Halloween costume dildo out of retirement, even though it was broken. But, what the hell? I could still be suggestive.

I took the microphone from Sherman, and I proceeded to belt out Chuck Berry’s “My Ding-a-Ling.” Instead of the dildo, I wore two bells on a string, which was tied around my belt. I’d hidden the bells in my pants, so I had to get them out by reaching into my zipper. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Brandon blanch, but when he saw it was merely the bells I was pulling out, he seemed a bit more reassured.

The song was a hit. Everyone loved it, even with me shaking my bells in a rather suggestive manner. I got everyone to sing along with me on the chorus. How often can you get a roomful of people to sing a song no one has thought about for three decades? I’m not in the karaoke business, but I’m willing to bet it’s a rare event.

At the end of the song, I got my beads and the tickets, but most importantly, I got my free beer and took to my seat. How much did I have to drink? It doesn’t matter. I was buzzed, but not drunk. I cheered a lot and was quite loud, so I imagine that onlookers must have thought I was stark raving hammered. I wasn’t that far, but I probably would have been by the end of the evening. The truth is, I would have acted like that even if I was stone sober. It’s just what I do. People are going up on stage to risk their dignity, and I just want to encourage those who are willing to do this.

I went up to the bar to get another drink when the bartender said, “You’re cut off.”

“What? Why?”

“Because you puked all over my bathroom last week.”

Let me state, for the record, that I have puked twice (maybe three times) because of alcohol. It’s a matter of pride for me. When it comes to booze, I have a strong stomach. I later learned that one of the bouncers claimed that I was puking in their bathroom. Maybe I was in there when some other guy was heaving his guts out, and he made a mistake. Or maybe he was lying to get me kicked out with my brother (who was 86-ed that night for going behind the bar to get his own drink). But the simple fact of the matter is, I did not puke in his bathroom. The worst thing to pass my lips in their men’s room was a horrendous belch.

I told him that I hadn’t puked in his bar, and he said that he knows I did, and I was cut off. No more booze for me. [NOTE: It has since been proven, by people other than me, that this bartender is a scumbag. Shortly after this incident, he was fired because he sexually harassed a co-worker.]

This angered me. I’m perfectly willing to own up to my crazy shit, no matter how embarrassing it might be, WHEN IT IS TRUE. I take great offense at having someone spread vicious lies about me. I went back to my table and explained what the whore-faced, piece of shit, dick-headed, puppy-stomping, douche-bag of a bartender said to me. Fitz suggested I should leave, and I told him that was exactly what I was doing.

I took to the road. I was pissed off, but I was still a responsible driver. Besides, I’m a better driver when I’ve had a few. A lot of people say that, but in my case it’s actually true. When I’m sober, I drive like a maniac. I break all sorts of laws. I’m a speed demon. I cut people off when they’re not going fast enough to suit me. But when I have some booze in me, I am the world’s most careful driver. I go the speed limit. I come to a full stop at all stop signs. I respect the drivers around me. Why? Because I DON’T WANT TO GET CAUGHT.

I was eastbound on Ogden when I crested a hill and saw below me what police officers jokingly call a “safety” check. There was no way out of it. I had to drive into the camp of the enemy. But that was all right. I was in perfect control of myself. I was certain I would be able to pass the field sobriety test, and then I’d be on my way.

The cop smelled the alcohol immediately, and he asked me if I’d had anything to drink. I admitted to having one beer, which I explained that I’d won in a karaoke contest. He nodded and asked me to get out of the car, which I did. I wanted to cooperate and get this over with so I could get home, where I was planning to have a few more drinks while watching a movie.

And then he started conducting the field sobriety test. The klieg lights overhead baked down on me, and as if that wasn’t enough light, they had the high-powered door lights on. I was practically blinded by the starkness of it all. I felt like I was on an episode of THE X-FILES, looking up into the lights of hovering UFO’s.

I know I did well on one test: the one where he moves his finger and asks you to follow it with your eyes. That one was a breeze. I kind of fucked up the alphabet thing. No, I didn’t have to do it backwards. I had to start with E and stop at U. I forgot to stop at U, mostly because I had the alphabet song we all learn in kindergarten going through my head.

The ones I failed worst at were related to my feet. I’m not a very coordinated guy. I have shitty balance. My right foot is angled to the right, and I cannot straighten it, not even to walk. The officer asked me to straighten my foot, keep my arms at my sides, and lift my left foot so it hovers off the ground in front of my right foot.

I have tried doing this 100% sober, and I just can’t do it.

He asked me to walk a straight line with my hands at my sides. Again, I have tried doing this completely sober, and I can’t do it. The heel has to go directly in front of the toes of the other foot, and you have to keep your feet straight. Other people can clearly do this. The officer, who was a young man in tip-top shape, who has probably done this a million times, was able to do this rather well.

But I failed. He asked me if I was sure I’d had only one drink. I told him that I’d won a Dos Equis for singing Chuck Berry (and I explained, at that point, why I was wearing bells on my belt), and that I’d bought one beer after that.

He nodded and told me I was under arrest for driving under the influence. He then turned me around and cuffed me. As he led me to his cruiser, he asked me if I had anything in my car that I shouldn’t, and I thanked my lucky stars that this hadn’t happened the previous week. If it had, I would have had a blow-up sex doll in my back seat, and that would have been very hard to explain. Later, when I got my car back, I discovered they’d gone through everything and left it all strewn about the inside of my car. They didn’t search the trunk, though. If they had, they would have opened the boxes of TABARD INN I have back there.

I had a bit of difficulty getting into the back of the cruiser. Have you ever tried getting into a car with both hands behind your back? Anyway, as soon as I was in, he made like he was going to close the door . . . without fastening my seat belt. It was fine for him if he got into a crash. He had a seat belt on his side, and no doubt an air bag. In the back seat, I’d be fucked.

Yes, in the state of CLICK IT OR TICKET, a police officer was going to neglect my seat belt. I asked him to fasten it for me, and he complied.

Then, we were on our way. He brought me to the Lisle police station, which was a fairly nice place. Better than Elmhurst. When I worked for Elmhurst’s Public Works, I got to see a lot of the police station, and it was a dump.

They asked me to put all my belongings into a plastic container, including my belt. The officer inspected my shoes (and I had to explain the gel insert in the heels) before he gave them back to me. My cuffs came off, and they searched me. After they came up with nothing (and thankfully they neglected to inflict a body cavity search on me), they put me in a cage. I prepared to make myself comfortable.

I asked, “Do you guys have anything I could read to pass the time?” Because there is nothing I hate to do more than sit around and do nothing.

One of the other cops said, “What do you think this is? THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION?”

I sighed. It was going to be a long night.

Actually, I was only locked up for two hours, and the time seemed to pass by pretty quickly. They processed me, and then asked if there was anyone who could pick me up. I said my grandparents could do that, and they let me out to use the phone. After I did this, I asked if I could use the bathroom. The officer pointed it out. Out of habit, I went to close the door behind me, and the officer quickly reminded me of where I was.

There was puke on the toilet. I thought about the bartender at Mullen’s and grimaced.

When I was done, they took my mug shots and fingerprinted me. I expected to get a bunch of ink on my hands, but they’ve made a lot of technological advances in that department over the years. They sprayed my hands and scanned my prints into their computer. I noted how cool that was, and the officer nodded in agreement.

I was led back to the cage where I was Mirandized. I thought it was kind of weird that they hadn’t done that before, but whatever. The officer then told me that he wanted me to take a breathalyzer test. After he said this, he read from a statement, notifying me that if I did not blow, I would have my driver’s license suspended for a minimum of a year.

Think about that for a minute. I can hear some of you saying, “Well, if you have nothing to fear, why not blow?” Perhaps you’re unfamiliar with the definition of blackmail. It’s a scare tactic meant to put the Fear into people who are so drunk they can’t make their own decisions. They hear that they will definitely lose their license, so they decide to roll the dice with the breathalyzer.

Not me. First of all, I was not drunk enough to fall for their Nazi gibberish. Secondly, while I was not drunk, I thought I might blow over .08. Lastly, I had a moral objection to breathalyzers. They do not, and I repeat DO NOT, measure how drunk a person is. They measure a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC). Some people can handle .08 and more (and I am one of those people) while others can’t. No two people process alcohol in the same way. There are too many variables.

So I told the officer, “I can’t do it.”

He asked, “Why not?”

“I have a moral objection.”

He lifted an eyebrow, but he didn’t pursue the issue, which I think is a very good sign. They could have sent me to the hospital to take blood from me, and then I’d really be fucked. And it wasn’t like these cops weren’t willing to play hardball. There were a couple of guys in the next cell. One of them had accepted his fate and had blown a .23. The other, I suspect, was in for cannabis, considering how the cops were yelling at him, trying to scare him into a piss test. They really laid into him. They threatened to slap a catheter on him. When he finally agreed to piss, he went into the bathroom but said he couldn’t go.

“You’re playing games! Stop playing games! Just piss in the cup and get this over with!” And they threatened him with the catheter again.

I never got to find out how that turned out. My grandparents arrived at that point, and the officer started processing me out. I got my stuff back and had to sign a few forms. Hell, I even got my driver’s license back. It was going to be suspended after 46 days, but it isn’t common for DUI cases to get their physical license back; usually they have to drive on a ticket. Another good sign.

Despite how things appeared, it looked like I wasn’t entirely fucked. Why? It wasn’t just because I was cooperating with everything (except the breath test) or even because I was very polite. It may have been a combination of two things: my record and my conduct. I have a spotless record. There were a few youthful indiscretions that have long since been expunged, and while I have done many illegal things over the course of my life, I’ve never been caught at any of them. (And I doubt I’m alone, America. I challenge any of you to tell me that you have never done an illegal thing.) And as for my conduct, not only was I taking everything solidly and without complaint, I was also joking around with the officer a bit, trying to lighten the mood. I was conversational. I complimented him on his station and marveled at his fingerprinting technology. I’m willing to bet that I was the nicest guy he arrested that night, and for that, he wasn’t treating me like a criminal. He was actually a very good guy.

Think I’m giving myself too much credit? I didn’t have to pay a DIME to bail myself out. My grandparents paid nothing. The officer thought I was such a responsible person, he decided to let the State of Illinois bail me out. (This is good. In Illinois, you can bail someone out with only 10% of the full bail money. In my case, I would have had to pay a minimum of $300. I had it, as it was pay-day, but I wouldn’t have enjoyed surrendering it in such a fashion.)

When I was done signing the papers, I asked about my car. He told me it was with the towing company, and I could pick it up tomorrow. He gave me the brochure to the place. Why they towed my car to fucking Carol Stream, I have no idea, but I guess that was the way the dice fell.

“How much will it cost?” I asked.

“A hundred-ten,” he said. “There’ll probably be a storage fee, but they say one-ten.”

He then led me out to the lobby, where I hugged my grandparents and they drove me home. The next day, my grandfather and I drove out to Carol Stream to get my car. Would you care to guess how much it cost? Hint: it was more than $110.

Give up? $195. The other fees were for storage and after hours pick up. Fuck. I paid up and got the hell out of there.

On the way back, I thought about my case. I thought I stood a more than decent chance of getting out of the DUI. They didn’t have concrete evidence against me. Everything else was circumstantial. It looked bad, but it was nothing that couldn’t be explained away. I was confident that I could beat the charges. It was the suspension that I thought I wouldn’t be able to get around.

I needed a lawyer, and I thought about just taking a public defender, as I don’t have a lot of money. Then I started thinking about maybe getting the ACLU involved. I would present this case as a constitutional case, and honestly it is. These roadblocks are in violation of the 4th Amendment, after all. If I could get the ACLU to take an interest, I’d be able to get one of their lawyers for free. There was even the very, very slight possibility that the arresting officer wouldn’t show up for court, and my case would be thrown out. It wasn’t likely, but I wouldn’t entirely count it out, since I’d left such a good impression.

But I wasn’t certain about either of these tactics. I decided to ask Fitz for help. He’d been through something similar, and he would probably be able to give me good advice. I got in contact with him, and he recommended that I call his lawyer, Don.

“Does he like the taste of blood?” I asked.

“Dude, he fucking loves it. And it says on his website that you should never take a breathalyzer, so you’re already down the right path. But it will cost.”

Yeah. But it would be worth it.

I was excited. I knew I was in the right, and I had a good case. I couldn’t wait for my trial. I couldn’t wait to have my enemies’ torn throats in my mouth. Don is one of the best DUI lawyers in the state, according to several newspapers. I was confident that not only would he get me out of the DUI, but he would also get my suspension down to three months instead of twelve.

I had to remind myself that I shouldn’t let myself get too far ahead; I should at least contact the lawyer first. [As an aside, if you ever get into trouble with a DUI, call 1-800-DIAL-DUI. They’ll put you in touch with a lawyer who specializes in DUI anywhere in the country.] I gave him a call and set my free consultation . . . .


Friday, November 18, 2011


Heh. Just kidding. I’m not going to talk about the state of the horror genre. Too many people have already done that, and many of them are far more qualified than me. But there is a question that has been plaguing my mind since I read Brian Keene’s thoughts on this subject. Before continuing, you should read it if you haven’t yet. Here’s the link. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Ready? Okay. Are we all in agreement that it is important to know the history of one’s chosen genre? (And it’s okay if you don’t want to be identified as a horror writer. As far as myself, I write whatever the fuck shows up in my head, be it horror, SF, mystery, or something completely unclassifiable. Anything except romance, although I have kind of an idea for a gothic romance novel. Regardless, I generally consider myself a horror writer. It’s where my heart is. It’s what I like the most. But I’m not married to it.)

Can we also agree that every writer has influences? Because let’s face it, even those cave artists Keene mentions found their inspiration in something else. I wear my influences on my sleeve. Stephen King, obviously, as well as Joe R. Lansdale, Jack Ketchum, Richard Matheson, and a number of others. Richard Laymon’s been lurking around in my head of late, too. As far as my non-fiction goes, it’s pretty clear that I follow the same path Harlan Ellison, Thomas F. Monteleone, and Keene himself have blazed. If you want, go down to the comments below and throw on a bunch of your influences. I’ll bet that every one of us will know every writer on that list. (Because I tend to keep the company of intelligent people.)

Now, here’s the question I have, the question that started this whole column. Those horror writers who don’t know their genre history, who don’t know who Robert Bloch is and why he’s significant, WHO THE FUCK ARE THEY READING?! They have to be inspired by someone, right? And they want to be horror writers, so chances are good the authors they’re familiar with are also horror writers. I’ll grant that no matter how bad at genre history they are, they’ve probably read King, Lovecraft, and Poe at the very least. But horror’s a big fuckin’ genre, man. They’ve got to be reading something else. And do not argue with me on this: all writers have to be readers. If they’re not readers, then what’s the point? Why do they want to be writers? Why do they want to produce something they would never use themselves? It makes no sense.

So who are they reading? To quote Jello Biafra, “I’m not telling you, I’m asking you.” Any ideas? Or is it possible that these guys are just kids? That they haven’t wandered too far in their reading? Let’s face it, that could be anyone posting on Shocklines. Maybe they’re not even old enough to shave yet.

But that’s not really an excuse. When I was in high school, I knew who the fuck Robert Bloch was. I knew why Ramsey Campbell was significant. I knew how important John Farris was to my own development as a writer. Algernon Blackwood, Arthur Machen, Lord Dunsany, I really didn’t care much for them, but I respected their relevance.

A while ago, Monteleone wrote in one of his MAFIA columns about the time he met Mickey Spillane. This was around when Spillane died. It impressed me so much that I wrote to Monteleone to express how jealous I was of him. He wrote back saying that he had hope for the new generation if young guys like me know who someone like Spillane is.

Go back over Keene’s speech again. Think back on all the authors he mentioned. I feel it is important for all of you to know who each and every one of them is. (Hell, it’s a challenge even for me; there were two names I didn’t recognize, but I assure you that I will become knowledgeable about them in the near future.) If you miss a few, don’t worry. No one is perfect. But do your homework. The fate of the genre—or any genre—depends on it.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

COOL SHIT 11-17-11

THE STAND: THE NIGHT HAS COME #4: Holy shit. I didn’t think they’d get to this point so fast. Larry, Glen, and Ralph have gotten to Las Vegas, and Randall Flagg is ready to publicly execute them in one of my favorite literary scenes of all time. Artist Mike Perkins nails it. The man is fucking amazing. When the Trashcan Man arrives with the a-bomb, the Hand of God looks far more awesome than the cheesy piece of shit in the movie. The look of tired resignation on Flagg’s face when he realizes how fucked he is is priceless. And the look on Larry’s face in the last moments of his life is just . . . wow. See it to believe it.

THE BIONIC MAN #4: I’ve never cared much for the Bionic Man. I wouldn’t even be reading it if not for Kevin Smith’s involvement. However, I find myself enjoying this book more and more with each issue. The story the doctor tells about the dog in this issue is just amazing. But the truly interesting thing is how they change Steve Austin. The science of rebuilding him is disclosed here, and it’s impressive. This Bionic Man can do a lot more than the original from the ‘Seventies.

THE WALKING DEAD #91: Wow. The one thing I did not expect was Rick to reject Andrea’s advances. I think they’d be perfect for each other, but it seems that Rick has noticed that his love interests tend to have short life spans. He thinks he’s saving Andrea’s life by not fucking her. Odd, but I can see it. In the meantime, I think Eric is awesome. Him and a bunch of others go out to forage for supplies, and what does he do? He grabs a bottle of 20 year old Scotch and keeps his mouth shut about it so he can share it with his boyfriend. How cool is that?

BUTCHER, BAKER, CANDLESTICKMAKER #5: I swear, I’m not just mentioning this book to keep my Ennis streak going. This is the issue where we find out how Mallory recruited Butcher into the Boys. How could I not mention something so important? But even more so, this is the issue where Butcher reads his wife’s diary and finds out why she died: the Homelander raped her. And since Ennis is a capable storyteller (and a gentleman to boot), he doesn’t go into the lurid details. She can’t bring herself to write about the actual act itself, but the psychological results are . . . horrifying. Cool shit, indeed.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


It all starts with a game of rock, paper, scissors to decide which astronaut will go on a suicide mission to save the greenhouse on Mars. This being a Brian Azzarello joint, the middle finger wins out.

It seems that Azzarello is tired of working the same ol’ noir beat he’s been walking for many years. Of late, he’s been trying different paths. Perhaps it started with his run on HELLBLAZER, but it definitely came to the forefront with taking the reins on the relaunch of WONDER WOMAN. Here, with SPACEMAN, he takes a trip down the SF path with a tale of men created to be able to withstand the environment on Mars and what happened after the mission failed.

The most startling thing about the book is the language. While those in the media and the upper class speak regular English, those on the fringe, like Orson, the spaceman in question, speak a strange, dumbed down version of the language. Even though one can make perfect sense of the words, it’s kind of hard to get into. The rhythm is so off it hurts. In other words, it portrays the fringe perfectly, where everything sucks and there is no hope. It’s almost like a Robert F. Young story, but without the melancholy tone.

No, Orson’s world is too hard for sadness; bitterness reigns over all. One merely needs to read the exchange about the existence of God to see that. When Rico, another of those who live on the fringe, says, “But olee God can make life. So spaceman equals no God,” he is castigated for being mean. Orson takes it like it is: “That’s not mean, Liz. I was created by man—just like God was.”

But this isn’t just Orson’s story. In this grim future, there is a reality show where a couple of celebrities gather a bunch of orphans together and make them compete against each other to see who will be adopted by the famous. One orphan is kidnapped, and Wade and Cass are the police officers assigned to solve the case. But they run into problems when they have to talk with the couple’s lawyer, an angry Moe lookalike who demands that the police are fingerprinted before they get to talk to the couple. The lawyer has a contract of terms and conditions, and the fact that the celebrities can do this is mindboggling. But think about where our reality show culture is headed, and maybe Azzarello’s not that far off. There’s a lot of social commentary in this masterfully told tale of a future gone bad. A future that has not delivered on its promises. A future that hurts.

And as usual, he’s not alone with his vision. It seems like he was made to work with artist Eduardo Risso. They make the perfect team, like Ennis and Dillon. Risso makes the future look dank and dirty, and he makes Orson look like a strange cross between a muscle-bound human and a monkey. Yet there’s still enough to make the world look futuristic in much the same way that 1950’s movies tried, except the darkness shows everything for the filth it really is.

SPACEMAN is going to be around for nine issues, and get this: the first one is only A BUCK. That’s right, one stinkin’ dollar. What do you have to lose? Give it a shot.

Written by Brian Azzarello
Illustrated by Eduardo Risso
Published by DC Vertigo
25 pages

Thursday, November 10, 2011

COOL SHIT 11-10-11

THE DUNWICH HORROR #2:  Fuck, I forgot to write this one up.  I'll have to do it from scratch.  You know how I mentioned in my review of issue one how Lansdale was bringing HPL into the 21st Century?  Well, as any true Lovecraft fan knows, the Mistkatonic University has a copy of the dreaded Necronomicon.  However, it's falling apart, so they scan it into their computer system and put it online for anyone to read.  Lovecraft himself would have found that ghastly.

JENNIFER BLOOD #6:  Yep, my Garth Ennis streak continues.  You know how Jennifer's been killing all of her questionable uncles in very extreme, nasty ways, saving the worst for last?  Well, she's at the last one, and all he gets is a mere shot to the guts.  Jennifer sits nearby and tells him the entire story of how she got to be the way she is.  Ennis has pulled a KILL BILL on us with this one.  But the true star is Jack, Jennifer's neighbor, who has followed her to the scene of the crime with intentions of fucking her.  Boy, is he in for the surprise of his life!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


This isn’t the first time DARK SHADOWS has been a comic book. Many of you might remember the old Gold Key classics . . . probably unfavorably. Like many spin-off series back then, it had little to do with the show aside from characters who vaguely looked like the actors who played them.

Dynamite, which is now making a name for itself as the go-to place for media tie-ins (or have you missed their GREEN HORNET, WARLORD OF MARS, THE BIONIC MAN, FLASH GORDON, and TARZAN books, among others?), has set its sights on the cult classic television show, DARK SHADOWS, a gothic soap opera from the late ‘Sixties and early ‘Seventies. In the big picture, the show didn’t last long, but since its untimely cancellation, it has lived quite an undead life in reruns and DVD’s. How many other soap operas have been released in their entirety on DVD?

And now, the show is resurrected again, apparently from where the TV series left off. Barnabas Collins, once a wealthy young man who couldn’t keep his dick in his pants, then a vampire chained away for two hundred years until he met someone who could remove the curse, is now a vampire once again. Just like in the good old days, he argues with his only true ally, Dr. Julia Hoffman, who is desperately trying to find a way to cure him of his vampirism. He shouts and rages because he is impatient. He’s been given a taste of normal human life, if only briefly, and he can’t stand being a monster anymore. He can’t stand the hunger. He is, after all, TV’s first reluctant vampire.

In the meantime, it seems that Angelique, once a Barnabas’s lover, always a witch, has followed him back to “present day” Collinsport (keep in mind, this takes up the story where it left off, meaning 1971), intent on making sure he remains cursed. And as per usual, the Collins family is coming apart. Roger is drinking too much. Elizabeth nurses the worry lines on her face. Carolyn, now a bereaved widow, seeks solace in the Blue Whale and another man’s advances. Quentin, a relative out of time, spends his life listening to his ever-relaxing song on the Victrola. And David? Yes, he’s still around. After all he’s been through, he probably wishes he wasn’t. He’s found his comfort in setting fires and turning to a life of crime.

Yes, life at Collinwood is full of strife, as it always seems to be. That’s the best part; either writer Stuart Manning did his research very well, or he’s a longtime fan. He knows the locale, the characters, the histories, everything, even down to the opening. Granted, since her early departure from the show, Victoria Winters can no longer introduce the episode, so the task falls to another character: “My name is Dr. Julia Hoffman . . . .”

And Manning isn’t alone. It’s clear that artist Aaron Campbell paid close attention to the show. Where else did the tumultuous waves in the first panel come from? You can almost hear the lugubrious tones of the theme song. The images of Collinwood are very detailed and perfect. And while the characters aren’t exactly spot on, they’re pretty damned close, especially for Elizabeth Stoddard, played by Joan Bennett, and Roger Collins, played by Louis Edmonds.

There is one problem. On the show, while things tended to get a bit bloody every once in a while, it was always kind of a neat, polite mess. Horror doesn’t come with better manners than a good episode of DARK SHADOWS. There is one scene in which someone writes a message in blood on the walls of Collinwood. One would think that would be too much for the sensibilities of DARK SHADOWS.

A small quibble. This book is headed for good things. Get in on the ground floor.

Written by Stuart Manning
Illustrated by Aaron Campbell
Published by Dynamite Entertainment
22 pages

Friday, November 4, 2011


Many of you may have heard about my Halloween weekend, about how I spent all of my time drinking hard from Thursday through to Sunday morning, when the absolute worst hangover of my life took over. As I write this, I have only just conquered it by mere hours, and it is Tuesday night.

Conquered. Shit, that’s laughable. This hangover LET ME GO. It had its ugly way with me, blew its load, and finally removed the fetters. It was like booze had unleashed a Terminator on me, and somehow, after days of torment, the cold-blooded killing machine decided I wasn’t worth the effort.

Jesus. Alcohol had never turned on me like that before. It scared the shit out of me. I decided, in the darkest throes of this hangover, to never drink again.

Big words for someone like me, I know. Let’s look at my history with my beloved whiskey.

Though my mother had given me alcohol when I was a child, I didn’t really start drinking of my own accord until I turned 21. Very soon, I realized that it unleashed something interesting in me. I’m a control freak, something I’ve always hated about myself but could do nothing about. In fact, if most of you knew what I was like in my sober years, I guarantee that you would all have fucking hated my guts. I was anti-social, I despised everything, and I looked down on everyone.

But then booze made its official arrival in my life. I suddenly had an excuse to relax the unhealthy death grip I had on my own life. Not only that, but it made me a much nicer person, far more likely to have a conversation with a stranger. Yes, suddenly I was social. Not only that, but I found out that I could actually be entertaining. I was always a writer, but now I found myself performing in front of others, mostly through verbal reproductions of tales. I soon acquired real life stories, which really helped my popularity. A wonderful thing was happening to me: people actually liked being around me. To those who remember me from high school (and I know none of them are reading this), a likable John Bruni is unthinkable.

I rode this crest for quite some time, and I still do. Alcohol taught me how to be a human being. Sure, a human being who had some quirks that set me vastly apart from others, but a human being nonetheless.

Shit, I think back on the time I lost my job at the library, and it astonishes me. If you guys think I drink a lot now, you would be absolutely shocked by the obscene amount of alcohol I consumed in those days. I still had my day job at the public works garage, but it was only part time. I would spend four hours every day working through a hangover, and then I’d go back to drinking and fucking around. Jesus, those bouts of drinking were legendary.

But I eventually got a night job, and I slowed down to almost nothing. Then, I traded both of my jobs for an infinitely better one and picked up a bit more. Nothing crazy, just business as usual.

And then that horrible pain in my head started attacking me. By that point, I was putting down a handle of whiskey a night because there was nothing else in the world that could make the pain go away. I would suffer through work, then rush home to get tanked within two hours. Luckily, I stopped being stupid and went to a doctor, who recommended a dentist, who solved my problem by covering up the nerve exposed by tooth decay that was causing the pain.

But after that, I never got crazy, especially after I was diagnosed with my bevy of health issues. This may be shocking to all of you, who know exactly how much I hate fruits and vegetables, but I’ve been eating them for the past month. Apples, corn, all that disgusting shit. No booze, no caffeine, no sodas, nothing but the healthy shit and water. I allowed myself a day a week to have fun. All right, sometimes I slipped in two. Don’t tell my doctor.

This took its toll on me. It drove me crazy. Life was so boring without the stuff that I enjoyed, and what exactly is the point of living a joyless life?

So I cut loose this weekend. I went balls out for the first time in ages. I demanded of myself that I go out for a bender, which must consist of remaining drunk for at least four straight days (as any good drunkard knows). Holy shit, did I get crazy. I got a haircut I don’t remember. At some point, I detailed my car but have no recollection of doing so. There are a lot of missing memories from the day after THE RUM DIARY.

And then there was what happened at the Halloween party on Saturday. Some of you were there for that little scuffle, which I’m not proud of, by the way.

But I can say one thing that still keeps me within the realm of the drunkard and not an alcoholic (as per my Stations of the Boozehound): I have never done anything while drunk that I wouldn’t have done stone cold sober. Even if I’d gone to that party dry, all of those horrible things would have still happened.

Sadly, I failed at my bender because I fumbled on the fourth day. I was sooooo hungover the very idea of drinking disgusted me. It made me miserable for days, and that scared the shit out of me so badly that I decided I didn’t want to see so much as a pussy hard lemonade for 666 years. I decided that my run as a drunkard had to come to an end. Fuck man, I had the shakes, which I’d never had before. I saw shit moving from the corners of my eyes. That can’t be good.

Then, earlier today (today being Tuesday), I checked my previous Everyone’s Got One entry and saw the anonymous comment. You know the one. At first, it pissed me off. Am I stupid? Yes. I have no issue with that comment. But pompous? That word has all the wrong connotations. I’m an egotistical bastard, but to the best of my recollection, I’ve never been pompous. That implies I was lording my superior abilities over others less fortunate than me (alternately, it could mean I was putting on airs, which I've never done). The anonymous commenter also suggested that I was whining and that I needed to face the world on my feet. Now that I give it more thought, I can see why this person thought I was whining when in fact I was trying to explain. Here’s the thing: I like being me. I’m proud of myself. I don’t want to change. The problem is, other people want to change me.

I was going to fire off an angry missive in the comments, but as I was typing my response, I realized that saying anything at that point would be useless and probably whiny. (Of course, it hasn’t stopped me from talking about it here, but fuck it.)

But that part about facing the world on my feet made me wonder about the decision I’d just made regarding alcohol. Am I really that much of a coward that I’d let an inanimate object give me The Fear? Just because things got rough, I was going to lie down and quit?

When I was a young boy, I was going to be a scientist. Writing at that point was just a hobby. I really wanted to study the world and understand the nature of reality. I still follow this urge in my spare time. Quantum physics is a baffling but enlightening topic, and I recommend that all of you reading this get involved. Your understanding of reality will be challenged, but you’ll emerge with a soaring heart and an open mind.

Why not approach this as a scientist would? Apply the scientific method to my life as a boozehound. This situation didn’t call for my unconditional surrender in desperate times. This called for a new way to approach the bucking bronco.

I’ve decided that instead of being a pussy, I’m going to experiment a little. It’s time to start counting drinks, calculating proofs, testing what can be mixed with what. Every time I’ve had booze in the past, I’ve done so to lose control, to get so absolutely blasted that I’ll have incredible stories of debauchery to tell others.

But what if I drank merely to take the edge off, just enough to alter my perception to the right level? Most drunkards can figure out, to the drop, how much booze it will take to get them to that magical place, the perfect buzz.

The beast has thrown me and trampled me mercilessly, but I’m still alive. I am still healing. Does the cowboy give up simply because a horse threw him? No, he comes back and dominates the animal.

That’s what I intend to do. I will dominate the booze. It might take some training and experimentation, but I will conquer it. I might need an assistant, since alcohol tends not lead to sound judgment, but it will happen.  There's just one wrinkle.  I recently had a endoscopic ultrasound, and the doctor who did it noticed that my pancreas was inflamed a bit.  He said that it's definitely alcohol related.  If it gets worse, it will develop into pancreatitis, which will kill me.  He advised me to stop drinking, which will stop the inflammation in its tracks.  So . . . I have to give myself time to heal before I embark on my great drunkard experiment.

I will become a refined drunkard, my blunt club wit sharpened to a rapier point, and then I will kick the world’s ass. You’ve been warned.

By the way, I’ve been thinking of serializing a novella I recently wrote and post a chapter here every Friday instead of an opinions column. There’s no way in hell I’ll ever sell this thing (novellas are notoriously difficult to sell), but I think it’s a pretty funny sex romp through space, and it deserves some readers. Your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below.

COOL SHIT 11-3-11

THE BOYS #60: Shit, there weren’t a lot of books that came out this week. There were plenty of good ones, but only one that was Cool Shit-worthy. So naturally, it’s a Garth Ennis book, the one I’ve been the most excited about these past few years. In this issue, something truly amazing happens. You know how the U.S. President has been kind of hanging around the background of the story? (Okay, I know we got to see him once before. It doesn’t count.) We finally get to meet him in all of his cowboy glory . . . AND ENNIS FUCKIN’ KILLS HIM OFF. And let’s not mince words, this is the most embarrassing way for a U.S. President to die, short of getting killed in a dildo accident. I mean, if Taft had died in that bathtub, it would still not be as bad as how Ennis offed this guy. While doing a meet-and-greet with a bunch of patriotic kids and their off-kilter pets, one of them escapes and makes a bee-line for the Prez (who looks a little more than coincidentally like Dubya). Yes, the President is mauled to death by a wolverine in front of a roomful of children. And it was fuckin’ BRUTAL. He gets his eyes eaten out and his throat torn out so deeply you can practically see all of his spinal column. I was tempted to use this picture to represent this issue, but . . . buy the book and see it for yourself. Jesus. The worst part: this means the perennial moron, Vic the Veep is now in charge. Fuuuuuuck.

And that’s not all. MM finds out that his skank of a wife is making porn with their daughter and a guy named Julius Kong. Naturally, he’s a wee bit upset, and it looks like Butcher’s going to have to calm him down. With all the infighting of late, next issue could contain a very interesting two-fisted battle.

I have one more thing to mention. The reason Ennis is my favorite comics writer is his fearlessness in tackling any subject, but a very good secondary reason is his irreverence toward superheroes. Honestly, I never liked those dickbags (I only read their books when writers I like are writing them), and it does my heart good to see them suffer. (PREACHER was my favorite book, but I miss HITMAN more for this reason alone. Where else could you see a criminal puking his guts out on Batman’s feet? Or how about when Tommy Monaghan reveals the Green Lantern to be an absolute cheapskate?)

One of the things I hate most about superheroes is how they take themselves ever-so-fucking seriously. Case in point: their stupid macho (and this applies to women, too, not just the men) poses on the covers of their books. Eyes squinted, crouching as if ready to pounce, mouths open as if shouting with rage, the works. It never looks cool. Ever. Ever. Ever. There is nothing more hatefully laughable than this bullshit.

Take a look at the last panel of this issue as Team Titanic make their debut, and you’ll see what I mean. But the thing is, not even the Homelander, the piece of shit that he is, lets them get away with this crap. With the last two panels, he takes the absolute piss out of the lot of them, and they have it coming in spades. Thank you, Mr. Ennis.