Catello Writes

For the Curiously Nervous and the Nervously Curious


By Mike Catello

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I admit it: I like rummaging through those “Top” lists I find often on websites to which I would never venture without being prompted by a link on a site I normally visit. Brief stints of boredom at work prompt me to scan through the Top 25 Guitarists of All Time, the Top 10 Beatles Albums, the Top 10 Brando Movies, the Top 50 Worst Songs of All Time, the Top 25 Horror Movies of the 1990s, and so on. The brevity of the annotations for each enumerated item makes it easy for me to complete a list in five minutes or so. I quickly agree or disagree with a summation and even learn some bar trivia along the way. Really, though, raking through lists like this is what I consider to be a “guilty pleasure.” I surely should be doing something more productive, yet I click onto the next “Top” list.

I was on vacation recently with my family and ready to unveil my “Top 5 Most Overrated Artists of All Time.” Continue reading “SELF-MUZZLING IN A CLICKBAIT WORLD THAT NEVER COULD HAVE SPAWNED THE SEX PISTOLS WITHOUT THE KINKS”

Four Proven Ways to Contract Anxiety Part II: Get Rejected by Someone That You Trust

Mike Catello

Have you ever been treated as if you didn’t exist by someone important to you? This person gains your trust, you become psychologically and emotionally dependent on them, and then they get up and leave? My uncle came into my life in my early teens and split in my mid-20s. I didn’t realize the impact his rejection had on my life until therapy. As my professional identity was unraveling, I often took solace in the fictional identity I fashioned after my uncle. My uncle is the oldest brother on my father’s side. He taught Psychology at my hometown high school – Penn Hills in Pennsylvania. His lifestyle was different than that of my father and his family. He gambled and smoked. He lived in the mountains in Ligonier, an hour from Penn Hills, along the Loyalhanna River. He heated his home with a wood-burning stove. He was single and ran a roadside fruit stand with a friend. He was an atheist. My family held him with high regard and it was always a big deal when he came to family events. There was a mystique about him. Continue reading “Four Proven Ways to Contract Anxiety Part II: Get Rejected by Someone That You Trust”

Portrait of a Parking Lot on a Sunny Day

Mike Catello

ds141117_parking…oh, man, we have one of those middle aged sweet car dudes…

…you would have been out of the store by now…

…she just parked there. you can’t park right next to her…

…that’s it. just drive through the lot across the spaces. we’ll all move…


I often spend my work breaks chilling in my car in a grocery store parking lot. I read, write, or gaze aimlessly into the void of Greentree, PA.  I’ve been doing this for a few years, and I’ve realized that there are certain styles of parking. Most of us park cars intelligently, but there’s a subset of parkers that are plain idiots.

The Dude

A red Camaro pulls into the lot and faces me off to the right. The car straddles the white line that squarely delineates “this” space and “that” space. A salt-n-pepper dude I figure is 58 emerges. Continue reading “Portrait of a Parking Lot on a Sunny Day”

I Don’t Like Wayne Coyne

Mike Catello

Wayne Coyne
Wayne Coyne (Credit: AP/Evan Agostini)

I don’t like Wayne Coyne. I like the Flaming Lips enough. I enjoy Mr. Coyne’s treatment of his home and yard as his own playground/art gallery. We have one like it in Pittsburgh – Randyland. (Mr. Coyne is originally from Pittsburgh.) I also dig that he’s remained in the Classen-10-Penn where he grew up in Oklahoma City. I saw the Lips open for the Black Keys a few years ago. There was a lot of smoke and surreal video montages – largely of goats from what I remember. All of that was great.

So why wouldn’t I like Mr. Coyne?

On stage he was positioned on a pedestal of sorts, elevated higher than the band. He reminded me of Mussolini standing on the balcony of Palazzo Venezia when he declared war on France and England to a flag-waving throng below. Even more contemptible he persistently implored the audience for more clapping and cheering. He extended his arms and flapped his fingers toward himself, “Gimme more, gimme, gimme.” Continue reading “I Don’t Like Wayne Coyne”

Four Proven Ways to Contract Anxiety Part 1: Get Bullied – As an Adult

Mike Catello

Image from:

“You were bullied,” my therapist concluded. I was stunned. How could an adult be bullied? But I was. I allowed adults to torment me.

I was picked on as a kid, probably as much as anyone else. Once, unprovoked, a meathead drove a pencil point into my arm during a middle school health class. Graphite in my elbow memorializes the incident. Another time, my baseball coach’s son hockered on me. I don’t know if I was the target, but a commendable loogie landed on my neck like a slug shot through a rifle. One of my favorites happened in the school cafeteria. An unidentified imp squeezed ketchup down my ass crack. I never responded to any of these events. I don’t just mean that I didn’t fight back. I didn’t react at all (except after the pencil stabbing, perhaps with a bit of a squeal). Continue reading “Four Proven Ways to Contract Anxiety Part 1: Get Bullied – As an Adult”

Four Proven Ways to Contract Anxiety: Introduction

Mike Catello

Image from High Anxiety

Each of us gets nervous. It makes sense because there are a lot crazy stimuli around us. Each of us struggles with uncomfortable circumstances: dating, job interviews, public speaking. Each of us gets down on ourselves: poor test results, a lousy date, an underperforming month of sales. Anxiety comes and goes for many of you, and overall, you feel Ok. For many of us, though, unsettling thoughts and uneasy feelings persist and often overwhelm our lives. We can’t actually get through a job interview, so we don’t work. Some of us can’t leave our homes. Some of us hate ourselves. These are just some of the demarcations between the natural human feeling of “nervousness” and the psychiatric condition of “anxiety.”

Here’s an example. Karen and Sophia both go on a first date with a different man. Each woman is 23 years old and lives in Pocatello, Idaho. Each date consists of a dinner, movie, and a coffee to close the night. Continue reading “Four Proven Ways to Contract Anxiety: Introduction”

Butch Trucks Shot Himself in the Head

Mike Catelloscreen-shot-2017-01-25-at-8-44-02-am

It is early evening, dark, and wet, and I’m ramblin’ home from work. My wife texted me, “Butch Trucks died today.”  At that moment, no one knew the cause of death. I sighed. The next evening and the same ramblin’ ride home, long-time Pittsburgh disc jockey, Sean McDowell, played “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” to honor Trucks. The song ended and McDowell, almost like tagging on a song fact, noted, “Trucks shot himself in the head.” I exclaimed, “Oh Jesus Christ.”

. . . shot – himself – in – the – head . . .

It was the utter factuality of the words that provoked my response.  Continue reading “Butch Trucks Shot Himself in the Head”

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