Promises to keep

Hi. If you’re receiving this email and are currently thinking, “When the hell did I sign up for this shit?” there’s a good chance you didn’t.

But you did make the mistake of becoming a friend of mine, so I added your name to a free email list to let you know what I’m up to.

I didn’t do this lightly; I only picked people who already know I’m an asshole so getting an unsolicited email from me will just go on my list of transgressions and shouldn’t keep us from being friends in the future.

And considering all the people in the Greater Kansas City area and certain parts of California who think poorly of me, I had to pare the list down somehow and decided to send emails to people who:

A. Already know I’m an asshole and

2. Have shared beers with me.

So if you know I’m an asshole and haven’t shared a beer with me, clearly I owe you one.

But so far I’ve only told you how you were selected to be harassed by email and not why. As the greatest minds in the history have all eventually asked the universe: what the fuck?

I’m writing

The day I got laid off from the Kansas City Star for the second time – which by the way is not a record among Star employees – two of my best friends took me out to get shitfaced.

They had heard stories about my family – stories that include wrecked cop cars, a mail slot that delivers mail into a toilet unless you catch it first and a guest appearance by Johnny Cash – and those friends said now that I was unemployed and had time on my hands, I needed to write my stories down and publish a book.

Due to an over-serving of tequila I can’t remember that night precisely, but I believe a pinky swear was involved and we all know how serious those are.

You may know the Civil War ended when General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomatox, Virginia on April 9th, 1865, but what you probably don’t know is they wrapped things up with a pinkie swear which photographers failed to capture due to a wartime shortage of Polaroid film.


This is just the kind of shit they don’t teach you in history class and one of the reasons you should read what I write: it’s incredibly educational and has as much chance of being factually correct as any White House news conference.


After making that promise I didn’t do shit about it which is pretty much par for my course and now that I think about it is also true of the White House under almost any administration.

So that winter I sat on my ass, kinda depressed about what was left of my future, watched the Winter Olympics and looked at the clock wondering just when I could start drinking without being accurately labeled an alcoholic.

It got so bad I actually watched cross country skiing which is so fucking boring even the parents of the contestants decline to show up and tell their kids to give them a call later and let them know how things turned out.

I was in bad shape.

Saved by an ice storm and some readers

If you lived through the winter of 2018 you know it lasted until mid-July and if you didn’t make it through that winter I promise to take you off my mailing list once I figure out how that’s done.

I managed to mope through an entire summer – if there’s ever a World Moping Championship I would be a contender – and the next winter was trapped inside by an ice storm that made going out to pick up your newspaper a valued resume item for anyone applying for a job with the Ice Capades.

So with not much else to do I sat down and wrote one of the stories I promised to write a year before and stuck a link on Facebook.

And people liked it.

Laughter is not the best medicine – that would be the grapefruit margaritas they serve at Teocali’s – but it’s right up there.

Making people laugh is good for them and good for you as long as you don’t have to do it three times a night at the Laugh Shack in Des Moines, Iowa, having to go on stage even though there are three people in the audience and one of them thinks he’s funnier than you and has consumed enough grapefruit margaritas to think it’s about time to prove it.

(OK, that last part was not factually correct; the Laugh Shack is actually in Portland, Maine which I didn’t know until I googled it two seconds ago. But that Civil War pinkie swear is totally on the level.)

My son Paul pointed out that since the decline of newspapers, the humor column is basically dead unless you count Tucker Carlson or Sean Hannity and people might miss having a little Dave Barry in their lives.

Eventually there will be an online book

Some of you have already heard this, but I promise to use totally new words to describe it knowing there’s no way in the world you’ll go back and check to see if I’m being truthful.

When I talked about putting my family stories in a book and the difficulties of selling that book, my son Michael suggested I do it online. That meant I didn’t have to wait for a publisher’s OK and I could use as much profanity as I liked which increases my vocabulary by about 317 percent.

That all sounded interesting so I switched my writing to Substack, a “platform that allows newsletter writers to build a subscription business” and you’re looking at it now even though I wouldn’t describe what I’m doing as a newsletter unless you think my drinking habits constitute news.

They would only be news if I had a funny video of me falling down while holding a Bud Light in my hand, which will probably happen sooner or later so you’re going to want to stay tuned for that.

August in California

My mother’s 94th birthday is on August 25th, so I told her I’m coming to spend the entire month of August with her and get her to tell me all those family stories again and anyone new ones she remembers.

An online book will be written and posted during the month of August.

Since my mom is a devout Christian she’s pretty comfortable with the concept of lying your ass off when it suits you, so it will take at least a month to sort through the bullshit and acts of omission.

Until I was a grown up I didn’t realize my dad had been married three times and my mom was door number three. I had or have a half-brother that I’ve never met and we probably ought to keep it that way since we could meet and I might find out he’s a big fan of cross country skiing.

I also plan on visiting the scene of several youthful crimes and recording the details for posterity. If things go as planned (insert laugh here) I’ll be writing almost every day during the month of August and posting that stuff online so readers can follow along as the online book is being written.

Some of you have already signed up for this, but that’s why others of you are getting this unsolicited email: to let you know what I’m doing and so I could conduct a test.

When I send out an email I get one too and I wanted to see how easy or difficult it was to unsubscribe since I haven’t paid any attention to that shit up until now. So this morning I decided to figure out how to add names to my free email list, write something and post it as an experiment.

So if you get this email, don’t want me cluttering up your inbox anymore – which sounds way more sexual than it really is – and can’t just click a box to unsubscribe, send me an email, tell me to take you off my mailing list and I’ll figure something out.

If that seems like a pain in the neck, I apologize, but face it:

You already knew I was an asshole.