Tuesday, June 2, 2009


GOD GRANTED ME a 47th birthday today. And that's eight years longer than I ever expected from the guy.
It wasn't too long ago that I thought the 2.7 miles of sex, drugs and rock & roll that is Sunset Boulevard was going to take me down. Many of the streets that run perpendicular had a lot to do with my mindset too. As a matter of fact, Hollywood Boulevard fugured in a lot also. So did Melrose. My God...Melrose. Ten straight years of holding court at the hotspot, Ago, put me against the ropes time and again. If my journals hold any truth, the pages say I spent about 3,650 nights at that joint. Yeah, a decade of "dinner and drinks on me" can do a lot of damage to a guy. I know what it did to my wallet. I'm still waiting on the liver.
But I was a writer from New York City who was wooed to L.A. to go on to become a two-bit cable TV host. And when the little show took off, so did I. There weren't too many girls I turned down. Be them beautiful and brand new or a bit scuffed-up and sexy. Let's just say, without realizing what was happening, I had put out a welcome mat for all my demons to come in and put their feet up. I had a ball in this town for a good stretch. But this town has an evil way of having fun with you whether you want in or not.
The last time the streets were good to me was six years ago when a buddy begged me to hit the town on a random Thursday night. Without me to walk in ahead of him, there was no way he was getting in. It was that kind of velvet rope bullshit that I've been navigating on both coasts for 20 years. You duke enough doormen, your mug is on TV a lot, the ropes rise. Otherwise, tons of people with more money, manors and morals than I ever had, get to wait it out on the sidewalk. The club was called Deep. It stood at the intersection of America's most famous corner - Hollywood & Vine. It has since burned down, but thank God I managed to walk out that night with the woman who would go on to become my wife a mere 6 months later. And now, with three kids around the little house in Burbank, the fire still burns around here.
But, I can't lie. What did lay dying for a long time was my penchant for writing. Basically I was blessed to have writing jobs where people paid me well to write about the things I liked to do. But my best stuff most always centered around chasing women, fist fights or drinking. Not the kind of stuff I was doing anymore and not the kind of stuff I wanted my wife to be forced to read, let alone setting a bad example for my new 13-year-old stepson. So I put the pen down. And have been fortunate enough to get work on a few TV shows that ran a few seasons and a movie here and there and the writing muscle went mush. And here I am, six years later, with a 5-year-old daughter and 16-month-old son and the older boy off to college and I'm getting sick of waiting on the slow burn of the TV biz.
Don't get me wrong, when you do get a TV job you feel like you're on paid vacation. But when you're waiting for a TV job, it's Hell. And I ain't getting any younger, better-looking or thinner. So the clock in my head has taken on the look of something that would hang in one of Tim Burton's creepy, animated films.
But TV's changed. I don't have to tell you. I never thought there'd be a day when I would tell my manager to accept the offer from NBC to partake in "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here." Thank God, at the last moment we reconsidered. Those shows are evil shortcuts, but as you get older - especially in this economy - it isn't easy to pass on $100,000 for three weeks of eating bugs and shitting in a bucket in Costa Rica.
So now I'm at the mercy of the suits at the GSN network, who ought to be thrilled that the poker show I co-host for them has been No. 1 for 5 seasons. We wrapped almost two months ago and still no call for a 6th season. That keeps me on edge. And my wife and kids dont deserve to see Daddy on edge. Anyhow, the thing is, what I really want to say is - my head was clearer when I wrote for a living. And I gotta get back to that spot - wherever it may be. Maybe this is the start of something here.
So I'm gonna go ahead and write about whatever shit I feel like writing about. And the more of you who come along for the ride can only help me. I'm tired of paying a shrink or screaming at the ocean. I'm gonna write again. Hell, I am writing again. Best birthday gift I could give myself.
We'll talk later. Now I'm gonna go shoot hoops with my boy.


  1. AJ's Back!!!!!!!!

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  3. My husband and his beautiful words...you should see the poems he has written over the years to me. Thank you Bubba and this crazy family of yours loves you beyond any words written. xo, Wifey
    p.s. emtpy the trash when you get chance.

  4. Glad to see you writing again. I think it's going to be amazing.

  5. Great stuff, A.J. Good to have you back.

  6. So proud of you and happy for you, AJ!
    Old School is where it's at!
    I'll be reading along.
    Lots of Love,

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  8. Strong piece. Way to come out swingin'

  9. Finally...the Pope speaks......I like this direction

  10. AJ, so glad u passed on that stupid celebrity show. I watched a little bit of one show and it was like watching a train wreck. A bunch of washed up celebs who have faded to black. Keep on writing and follow your passion. Hope to see you this summer back on Long Island.

  11. I am here for you my brother! Keep on writing because it is when Benza is at his best! See you all real soon at Rojack's......

  12. I have never been so proud and excited to work with such a great guy!! Working on one of your hit shows was the greatest time of my life. Those days we spent shooting till the sun came up, and the fights on Hollywood blvd., etc. were some of the best nights I have ever had. The crew talks about you alot, and we truly miss working with you!! So glad to see you are doing great, this non blog is awesome!! Took us a while to get the smoke just right, but in the end it was worth creating a legend!!! Shoot, my wine glass is empty! LOL!