Escaping writer’s block in a pandemic without the usual remedy

Photo by Dmitri Nesteruk on Unsplash


October, 2020: A friend invites me to take a writing class with him, an L.A. class with an L.A. focus, developing a TV pilot. I was writing a TV pilot, and thought I could use tips on formatting and structure.

Smash cut to:

November, 2020: The teacher is in my head, I’m completely blocked on my pilot, everything sucks, and all I want in life is to go to a packed dive bar to bash my brains into cheap liquor. …

When you take a bite of King Cake, you’re home.

Dong Phuong King Cake and coffee. (Ronit Schlam)

I thought I’d heard the door buzzer during the day, but as I walked by the box on the floor in the lobby, I didn’t stop to look at it. It didn’t look like a record— the only packages I usually get— but eBay people box things up strangely sometimes, so I didn’t give it much thought. I checked the mailbox, then grabbed the box, all too casually. The box was oddly heavy. I was upstairs and almost inside my apartment before I squinted down the name on the return address. It hit me.

“Call Jenni! Call Jenni!” I hollered…

Watching a friend get dragged on Facebook for celebrating women

Sign at Women’s March 2019, Kuala Lumpur. Photo by Michelle Ding on Unsplash.

A close friend of mine, a white woman, posted on Facebook that picture of Kamala Harris, the Vice President elect, with the silhouette of Ruby Bridges, who was famously escorted to a newly desegregated school by U.S. Marshals. (The image was created by artist Bria Goeller and the owner of Good Trubble, a Black-owned business in the Bay Area.)

My friend included a one-liner, something about a big step for womankind. …

Delectable ideas from our foraged cupboards

“Red Beans” & Rice

1 bag dried cannellini beans (kidney, pinto, & black-eyed were all super sold out weeks ago)

That last Jimmy Dean sausage biscuit from the back of the freezer

1 Himalayan Salt Block

1 packet Mexican Rice mix

Louisiana hot sauce

Soak cannellini beans to rehydrate, but do NOT let them sit overnight; flatulence is now categorized as free entertainment.

Sauté the holy trinity of onion, bell pepper, and celery. Just kidding! You can’t get fresh vegetables anymore. Combine beans with all the onion powder you can find in your spice…

Photo by Rizal Hilman on Unsplash

“Happy Birthday” and “ABCD” have gotten despairingly old. Take your freedom back and sing something bold and defining.

Metallica — “Creeping Death”

So let it be written
So let it be done
I’m sent here by the chosen one

Die by my hand
I creep across the land
Killing first-born man

(Repeat chorus until victorious.)

Dead Kennedys — “California Über Alles”

Zen fascists will control you
Hundred percent natural
You will jog for the master race
And always wear the happy face

California Über Alles
California Über Alles
Über Alles California
Über Alles California

(Repeat chorus until calm.)

Cutting Crew…

To the first person who knows all 13 records, I will DONATE $100 to the music-based charity of your choice

[UPDATE: $100 was donated to Sweet Relief’s COVID-19 fund]


13 DAYS, 13 RECORDS, $100

It’s been fun to see what has inspired people in the past, and it made me curious about what they’re listening to NOW. Musical taste expands, evolves… and it does seem harder to find new music as we get older, and IDK if infinite digital choice really helps. …

How has what you’re watching or reading changed?

Photo by Victoria Heath via Unsplash

Was watching:
MSNBC, just in the morning.
Now watching:
CNN 24/7 turned up super loud. My neighbors hate me but they’re just not taking this seriously.

Was watching:
Fox and Friends every morning.
Now watching:
Every live Trump appearance and his Twitter feed. Now, more than ever, we need to get our medicine directly.

Was browsing:
The Atlantic.
Now browsing:
Slate, but just the advice column.

Was reading:
The Wall Street Journal, and by-the-minute stock updates
Now reading:
Old Doonesbury cartoons. I mean, fuck it.

Was reading:
Now reading:
4Chan. We’ve got to expose…

Questionable terminology as the world learns about Hart Island

Aerial view of Hart Island. Photo: Erlend Bjørtvedt (CC-BY-SA)

Today, The New York Times published a story describing “that it was likely some coronavirus victims” will soon be buried on Hart Island.

Stories about “mass graves” have been circulating for over a week, and the use of the term, both by recognized press outlets and extensively on social media, is feeding the hysteria we hope to starve as we fight our way through this epidemic as a city.

“Mass grave” is a terrifying term that instantly connotes the Holocaust, the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge, and other such atrocities against humanity. …

If you’re new to working from home as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have some answers.

Working from home is hard. (photo:

I’m having a hard time adapting to working from home.

You still have a job? Did you know the entire service industry is unemployed and poised to topple the economy? Did you know Broadway went dark? Did you know that basically every lower-income job everyone had before they became sell-out office drones is now NOT a job? And you still have a job? You should really consider shutting the fuck up. And donate some of that corporate crime money to waiters, bartenders…

Bradley Spinelli

Books: Killing Williamsburg, The Painted Gun. FIlm: #AnnieHall. Words: Bedford+Bowery.

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