Saturday, July 31, 2010

Falcons Training Camp Report

I have a secret to share. The blog posts that show up here are never the ones I start or plan to write. That sounds like I am saying I have no idea what I'm doing. The secret is, I don't. Yesterday, I had this delusion of grandeur. I would take my two youngest daughters to Atlanta Falcons training camp, scout talent the local team had, write this well informed, first hand account of what to expect from a contending NFL franchise for the 2010 season. Sometimes my ego is pathetic. By the time I delivered nose spray to my allegry impaired wife, tracked down my missing driver's license, got drinks and snack together, it was almost 9am. Falcons practice started at 8:30am. As me, Bug, and Goose walked into the Flowery Branch traning facility at 8:45am the girls saw ice cream, hand fans, Freddie the Falcon mascot, and temporary tattoos. Breaking down the Falcons defense, and seeing if wide receiver Harry Douglas' surgically repaired knee was going to be counted on for 16 NFL games was reprioritized.

Goose picked out a cheerleader tattoo, Bug went for megaphone ink, and I stepped away from the tattoo stand. The best professional football writer in the business, Peter King, almost knocked me over. I had no choice. I had to introduce myself, tell him I admired his work and enjoyed him on twitter. He smiled, acknowlegded my kids, and shook my hand. At least I got something sports related out of this trip. As we made our way over to the bank where people spread blankets out to watch practice, the questions started flying from the girls, "so, this is all we do?" "when do they play real football, daddy?" "why didn't we bring a football so we could play?" "how long are we going to be here?".  I dodged the inevitable. Checked out some of the important players. Running back Micheal Turner look to be in excellent shape. Backup QB Chris Redman was the only guy throwing crisp passes. Rookie linebacker Sean Weatherspoon is lightning fast. "Can we go back soon and just go to the pool?" That final question was enough.

I thought the entire idea was a failure. The girls seemed bored, hot, tired, and I had no blog to write. After waking back to the car and riding back down Buford Highway for several minutes in silence, Goose pipes in "so, can we come back again and just bring our own football and a blanket. I think that would be better next time." Bug jumps into the conversation; "Daddy, we like football too. Let's go back next week and watch you watch them play practice or whatever." Then I realized I had something.

As Goose getting into her other dad's car later in the morning to leave for a couple of days, I heard her tell him, "we got tattoos, we got to play with the Freddie Bird guy, and watch the basketball players throw footballs."

The Falcons have better personnel this year. They are in a tough division with the defending Super Bowl Champion, New Orleans. Atlanta is loaded in offense and their schedule is favorable. It's impossible to tell what players will do when they are in helmets, shorts, and no pads. I do know I had a heck of time.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Spies Like Us

I'm no John Le Carre' (neither is he, it's a pseudonym) and I don't even think Tom Clancy believes half of what he writes is true. I live with four women so keeping secrets is impossible. I doubt the CIA or FBI will be asking me to to track the movements of my neighbors, some of whom are not orginally from the United States. That prefaced, I am fascinated by the recent Russian spy scandal involved 11 alleged KGB agents working inside America who have been exposed and will soon be sent back to their Mother Russia.

The United States government is claiming the spy sting is the greatest gathering of suspects in the history of espionage between us, um, the U.S.A and Russia. Intelligence experts (those two words together make me laugh, too) say these 11 not so secret agents may well represent more spies than were in the United States during the Cold War scared 1950s. What intrigues me about this story isn't the covert nature of spying or the possibility of important state secrets exchanging hands with an enemy; it's the utter imcompetence of the 11 spies and the nonchalance of American and Russian reaction.

After watching Jack Bauer load massive files onto his PDA and then use his never dead cell phone to save the world season after season on 24, maybe I'm a little underwhelmed by news of real Russian spies who have facebook accounts, club in Manhattan, and allow FBI agents to easily catch them. I mean James Bond needs a good two hours to travel to four or five different countries, bed two Mata Hari types, see one of his best buddies die, and figure out a way to defeat a master villain that either has a scar on his face or a quirky but scary henchman. These not so master spies were led by femme fatale known in America as Anna Chapman who had a previously mentioned facebook account full of provocative photos in various states of undress as well as pictures of her partying with billionaires and B-list celebrities. At one point, an undercover FBI agent walks up to her, tells her he is her substitute control officer. Then other FBI agents watch her walk into a Verizon store, buy a prepaid cell phone card, then drop the bag and receipt in the trash. This 21st century Mata Hari signed the receipt "Irene Kutsov" with the address 99 Fake Street. Yeah, more Get Smart, than Bourne Ultimatum.

It's believed by Intelligence Experts (one of these days they're going to be a cool rock band with that name) , that the current Russian espionage goal is information of U.S. policy towards Iran. Shouldn't the Kremlin be hitting up the Kardashian sisters instead of Anna Chapman and her merry pranksters? Kim, Kourtney, Khloe and the others ones' dad was from Iran. Oh crap, did I just undercover the real Kremlin plot? Quick someone check the E Channel for clues. I don't watch that show, but the New Orleans Saints just won the Super Bowl then Kim dumped Saints running back Reggie Bush. That was the flashpoint, wasn't it?

After 9/11 the main talking point was how American Intelligence had failed us. The FBI and CIA and military experts did not talk to each other. Terror "cells" were rampant in the U.S. and Canada. Osama Bin Laden and other evil creeps had used our own openness and freedom against us. Then Homeland Security was created and the Patriot Act was passed. People were debating on whether giving up some civil rights was necessary to "protect" out national security. I admit I panicked with the rest of the country and thought Homeland Security and the Patriot Act were musts. I've changed. The lack of evolution of espionage in this Russian case is proof that my own instinct are correct. We have the technology and intelligence to track bad guys, but the bad guys may not be as prevelant and competent as we thought they were.

 There has been no threat of retaliation from the Russian for arresting their agents. The U.S. isn't even threatening retribution for Russian infiltration. This may be a combination of the agents not having anything on us or they may just be fascinated with Anna Chapman's facebook profile and they don't want her to go private with anything. There are real enemies out there. Al Qaeda is recruiting furiously in Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Pakistan and Indonesia. There are rumors of camps operating in Mexico and Venezuela. The Chinese are spending trillions on defense satellites and military hardware. You know, like the U.S. spends. Iran may be a superpower, in the sense of nuclear weapons and anti-American interests in surrounding countries. What I don't see is this imminent danger within our own borders of double secrets agents exposing information that will all have us wearing fill beards and burquas or eating exclusively at Panda Express in the year 2013.

I've written all this on Al Gore's internet and his recent entanglement with massage therapists may have been the powder keg ignition on our enemies finding out that dumb bloggers aren't that scared of them after all. Those Kardashian sisters are sinister. I mean Khloe just married a Los Angeles Laker. In a span of six months those girls have managed to find out everything possible on a Super bowl Champion and an NBA dynasty. We're doomed. Where's Jack Bauer, when you need him?

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Terrific Ten Band List

Rice Krispies taste better with a little sugar, right? No one likes bitter without some sweet. The only difference between the Banned Band List and the Terrific Ten are, they are no rules. Almost forty years of listening has honed my taste for the finer chords. Here's what you'll find played the most in my car, ipod, house, and radio.

10) Oasis - The fighting Gallagher brothers always grab my attention. They didn't invent Brit Pop, but they perfected it and took it global. Are they a Beatles derivative? Sure. They do rock harder than the Beatles. They're meaner, leaner, and a little more realistic lyrically than the Beatles. They can cop John and Paul melodies and I'm cool with it. Plus, and this only applies to me and anyone else with a daughter named Lyla, they have my kid's theme song. Which was released 7 months after she was born, so no, I did not name her after the tune. Obviously, Noel Gallagher wrote it for her.Favorite Oasis album - 1995's What's The Story Morning Glory? Favorite Oasis' songs - Lyla, Lord, Don't Slow Me Down, and Acquiesce.

9) The New York Dolls - Johnny Thunders' guitar was so far ahead of it's time that it took 15 years and the Appetite for Destruction album by Guns n Roses with their axman, Slash, for people to appreciate the style. The Dolls, were punk, glam, power pop, and straight ahead rock and roll all rolled into one smoking mess of drugs, makeup, women's clothes, and excess. Favorite Dolls' album, their eponymous first record. Favorite Dolls' song - Personality Crisis.

8) Nirvana - If you let something go and it comes back to you, it's meant to be. Or however that chick saying goes. After Kurt Cobain's suicide and the talking points spewed by everyone including Newsweek and Time magazine's about Kurt being the spokesperson of my generation, I ran away from Nirvana and their music like rats from flourescent light. Then, I started listening again years later and realized my first instinct had been correct. Kurt could right and Dave Grohl had some serious talent. I find myself playing Nevermind and Unplugged a lot. That has to mean something. Favorite Nirvana album - 1991's Nevermind (but listen to Bleach when you can, it's better than you think.). Favorite Nirvana song - 2002's You Know You're Right ( located on their compilation album).

7) The Ramones - They stuck around too long, and they never sold records. The latter makes me like them even more. The best thing I have ever heard about the Ramones is "listening to The Ramones first album is like watching the atom split for the first time. Nothing was the same after that." For all of the excess and bloat of the 70s supergroups and their million dollar records, none of them could capture the heart of 4 losers from Queens, NY and their desperation to be rock heroes that was laid down on 1976 The Ramones. It cost 7 thousand dollars. Stripped down arrangements, simple lyrics, and two catch phrases (Gabba Gabba Hey and Hey Ho, Let's Go) later music changed. It just took a while for people to realize it was changing for the better. Favorite Ramones album - 1976's The Ramones. Favorite Ramones song - Blitzkrieg Bop.

6) Led Zepplin - Their music was called The Thunder of the Gods. That's the second best tag line ever associated with a band. Jimmy Page's guitar was groundbreaking as Robert Plant's over the top vocals were memorable. The best musician was their drumemr John "Bonzo" Bonham who brought danger, sonic boom, and fury to the mytical obsessed other members. he grounded them in blues and hard rock. They were the biggest band of the 70s but their first two albums made the 1960s are where to start to understand their greatest. Communication Breakdown and Good Times, Bad Times are rock and roll standards for hard rock and heavy metal bands. There  was always an urgency and a danger with Zepplin. Those are musts with any great band. There is a lot of unnecessary stuff on their records. They were fond of how well they played and whatever fad they had going on in their lives being put onto their recordings. The Beatles did this too, just a little bit better. They made three of the greatest rock records; IV, Physical Graffiti and Houses of the Holy. Favorite Zepplin album - Physical Graffiti. Favorite Zepplin song (s) - Wearing and Tearing, Communication Breakdown, Misty Mountain Hop.

5)The Beatles - As great as they are and as much as they are a part of my family, you have to take the good with the bad. The Beatles have a rollercoaster catalog. Their compositions are amazing and worthy of through study. There is a lot of filler of some of their albums and they are the same group that did Rocky Raccoon, Yellow Submarine, and I Am The Walrus. They are also the same group that did Ticket To Ride, Eleanor Rigby, She Came In Through The Bathroom Window, and so many really great songs. John's lyrics, Paul melodies, and George's guitar are like classical music for contemporary ears. Favorite Beatles album - Revolver. Favorite Beatles song - Eleanor Rigby, She Said She Said ,A Hard Day's Night, Let It Be...hmmm

4) The Rolling Stones - I have always preferred Mick Jagger and Keith Richards over John Lennon and Paul McCartney. The fact that Jagger and Richards stuff apart from each other is so bad speaks to how perfect their chemistry is together. Satisfaction may be the greatest guitar riff ever. The way they able to stay blues based is amazing. Exile on Main Street sounds what rock and roll is supposed to sound like; gritty, dirty, mean, unsafe, and dangerous. When you stay together for over 40 years, you will make bad records. At least they put out a compilation called Sucking In The Seventies. Self Awareness is a virtue not found among musicians, normally. Beggar Banquet, Let It Bleed, Tattoo You, and Sticky Fingers are just outstanding albums. Favorite Stones' Album - Exile on Main Street. Favorite Stones' song - Tumbling Dice.

3) Bob Dylan - He gave meaning to the pop song. He made rock and roll artistic. He broke more rules than any otehr artist and did so without embarrassing himself. His records are sometimes too long, sometimes too short, sometimes too conusing, and sometimes just too much. One thing he never is, musically, is boring. Like A Rolling Stone is taboo. It's almost 6 minutes long, it challenges conventional song structure, and it is a pure pop song despite being so lyrically awesome. The way Dylan challenges people as they listen amazes me. I learn something every time I hear a Dylan song. Ultimately art is supposed to reveal truth. No one does that better than Bob Dylan. Favorite Dylan song (s) - Like A Rolling Stone and Tangled Up In Blue. Favorite Dylan album - Blonde on Blonde or Blood on the Tracks.

2) Radiohead - Just when you think you have a band figured out they are supposed to change and make you wodner what the heck is going on? Radiohead does that every album. Ok, Pablo Honey is their grunge record and Creep is their one hit wonder about a loser in over his head in a relationship and we'll never hear much from this group again. Wrong. Here comes recording after recording of perfection. Songscapes of weird guitar riffs and space songs that make Pink Floyd sound like amateurs. Thom Yorke isn't the first genius to make pop records. He's the just the reigning genius. When you have a hard time picking your second favorite band's best album, you know they're good. Favorite Radiohead album - The Bands or Ok, Computer, depnds on what day I'm on. Favorite Radiohead song (s) - Just, High and Dry, House of Cards, many more.

1) The Clash - The Only Band That Matters. That how they were referenced during their run. They started in punk music and used it to be revoltionaries. They saw music as meaningful. The way they took responsibility of their talent is equal to Bob Dylan. They just rocked harder. I have never heard a Clash song I didn't like. Even though Combat Rock and Cut The Crap are not great records. They're still really good, despite the break up chaos surrounding them. London Calling is the greatest rock record ever made. It combines 6 different musical influences and then rocks your face off. Joe Strummer is the most underrated muscian ever. If great music is supposed to be about how it affects you, then The Clash music is great. Their is more depth in a 3 minute Clash song than a five minute Bruce Springsteen tune. The fact The Clash could speak so clearly in so little time shows their greatness. Favorite Clash album - London Calling. Favorite Clash song (s) - The Card Cheat, Spanish Bombs, Know Your Rights,  (White Man) in Hammersmith Palais, Clash City Rockers, London Calling.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Banned Band List

Once in a blue moon, although I haven't looked at a farmer's almanac today, I get nostalgic for stuff I've written before. The list of (mostly rock) bands I find abhorrent and do not allowed to be played in my presence comes with rules. I realize rules are counter to the spirit of rock and roll and most other forms of popular music but since I think the offending bands are so ill, they make rules necessary.

Rule 1 - the band has to be popular, commerically successful and known. Telling me about some rap rock group out of Topeka Kansas that has sold 12 copies means nothing. Yes, they're terrible, but only a few people know they're terrible

Rule 2 - Obvious is boring. The Insane Clown Posse is overtly bad. Everyone knows this. Same with Vanilla Ice and various teen acts like Justin Bieber or The Jonas Brothers. There is nothing clever about listing The Bay City Rollers or The Backstreet Boys on a list.

Rule 3 - The group, band or artists has to judged on their work, not their personality or persona. We all get that you may not like the very obnoxious Gene Simmons, but throwing him out with the KISS bathwater is intellectually dishonest.

Rule 4 - Kicking people when they're down (or dead) is just bad form. Gary Glitter, George Micheal, Micheal Jackson, Blind Melon, etc. all have to be judged on their work not their current room temperature or sleazy scandal.

Rule 5 - Reasons have to be more than arbitrary. Everything and everyone is bad for a reason. Brutal honesty is the best policy, yes, but that honesty must come with evidence.

The list:

10. Hootie and the Blowfish - Ten years ago, the frat boy heroes from Columbia, South Carolina would have been top five. Their 00s failures and subsequent descent of lead singer Darius Rucker into country music slumming for easy cash have almost eliminated this band from consideration. Yet, when you sell over 20 million records of your first two albums, make songs that are still used on ESPN sportshighlights and yoru debut CD from the mid 90s, Cracked Rear View is still in some parents record collections (mine included), you get internet dissed with the worst of them. (editors note - I am a New York Jets fan and avowed hater of anything Miami Dolphins. Darious Rucker allegiance to the Dolphins makes my blood boil.)

9) My Chemical Romance - If some spoiled kids from an upper middle class suburb got lost in Hot Topic, overdosed on mascara, and got their parents to buy them a record deal, it would look and sound like this band. First of all remove, the My from the band name. Chemical Romance sounds almost interesting. My Chemical Romance sounds like an afterschool special on The Disney Channel. This is marketing, not music. The Black Parade is this generation's Come Sail Away by Styx. That's not a good comparison, seeing as how Styx is probably number 11 or 12 on this list.

8) Goo Goo Dolls - Not every band has to sell records or even make mainstream music to be good. For a while, the Buffalo, NY punk band headed by Johnny Reznik meant well. Then, for no good reason other than greed, they decided to make sappy ballad after sappy ballad with nothing else in between. Doing the same thing over and over again not only makes you a bad band, it makes you an insane one.

7) Post 1987 Aerosmith. I hate having to list this band. The Boston bad boys, led by the Toxic Twins Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, were so great in the 1970s and even early 80s when Joe and Steven broke up fo a while, that I would easily list then as one of my favorite bands. Yet, in 1986 they got sober, made the rap rock classic Walk this Way with Run DMC, and became a lame corporate rock, MTV sold, crap band. Fifteen years of great music were wiped out with twenty five years of horrible music. I Dont wanna Miss A Thing ensured this. They knew better. They just didn't care.

6) Creed - Songs about sin, redemption, honor, and looking forward sound like a great idea, right? When they come from a hypocritical, backstabbing, mean spirited, formulaic hack like singer Scott Stapp, they are revolting. Creed is what happens when that relaly good guy from your church forms a band and decides to sell his soul and everything else inside him. Bad lyrics, bad messages, and bad people.

5) Jam Bands - Here come the fighting words. Grateful Dead, Widespread Panic, Jack Johnson, Dave Mathews Band, Phish, Alllman Brothers, Doobie Brothers, Bob Marley and any other group that forgoes bathing, embraces pot, and plays songs with no structure, meaning or time value belong in this spot. Look, if you want to smoke dope and have a good time, then turn the tv on and dance around to whatever sound comes out of the speakers. You aren't paying attention to the music. The band isn't paying attention to you. Songs should never last longer than 5 minutes anyway, and even if we are going to give Led Zepplin a pass on Stairway to Heaven or Metallica a pass on Fade To Black, we will not give a pass to groups that play every song over 7 minutes for no particular reason. There is nothing artistic or entertaining about endless tunes that have maybe six lyrics in each song. It's all crap.

4) The Eagles - Vapid lyrics, stolen ideas, pretentiousness sold as art, and the worst kind of overt commercialism ever put on record. The Eagles copied The Byrds, Gram Parsons, The Flying Burrito Brothers, and several other less successful bands, homogenized their sound to where there is no edge, point, or intent, and made people think it was cool. The Eagles are a con job. As Johnny Rotten so poignantly said at the end of the Sex Pistols last show "Ever get the feeling you're being cheated?" It think he was talking about Hotel California being the number one record in the country at the time he spoke.

3) Nickelback - I hope, so much, this Canadian band of rock poseurs continue to be wildy successful so someone will finally knock the next two bands off the perch of this list. Infantile lyrics, horrible attitudes towards women that are neither funny nor ironic, radio ready (there's a different between radio ready and radio friendly) songs, and no heart or edge to a band that only cares about making money. Eventually the cash dries up, kids. You have to have some art. There is none with Nickeback. Just vacant, ugly, souless bile, that the ignorant call rock music. They're awful.

2) Bon Jovi - There are 3 definites in life; death, taxes and Bon Jovi sucks. Not good enough for you? Fine. Bon Jovi and Poison are the same band. they play to the girlfriends of male rock fans. The difference? Poison is honest about it and they seem to have fun doing so. Bon Jovi thinks, they're artists. Anytime a band has to "crossover" to another genre to get fans (intentionally, not unintentionally like Run DMC and Aerosmith, that was an accident) like Bon Jovi did with Sugarland means they can't cut it on their own merit. Bon Jovi has no merit. Slippery When Wet and New Jersey are the same record. Song by song, they are mirror images of each other. That's formula. Creed, Nickelback, Eagles, Jovi, they all did it. No one's challenged, everything is just sold.

1) Journey - Once upon a time in the mid 1970s, there was this almost decent jazz-rock group from San Francisco. Then they hired two chicks named Johnathon Cain and Steve Perry. The rest is pathetic music history. I didn't watched the last episode of the Sopranos, but it makes me giddy that one of the best shows in the history of television was ruined by the song Don't Stop Believing. Journey is everything the other bands listed are, just worse. No heart, edge, grit, sweat, meaning, poetry, or urgency that great music is supposed to have.

I feel better, don't you. Come and get me.

The Button

In my calloused hand, technology smolders. A tiny button atop a child sized finger of metal  and plastic moves  me into another place. It's a dimension of Joe Strummer, John Lennon, Johnny Thunders, David Bowie, Slash, Jimmy Page, Kurt Cobain, Joan Jett and Bob Dylan. It seems impossible to be in the presence of musical genius but through the shuffle of 600 songs, I am. My escape from stress, boredom, uncertainty, and fear happens in a click. The treadmill is my slave. The kids are alright.

I reject convention, ignorance, normalcy, and the status quo while I raise my fist and dance with heroes of sound and fury. I am punk. I am rap. I a hip hop. I am folk. I am glam. I am metal. I am rock and roll. I turn the button off.

My boss is calling. I have to work. I need to check in with my wife to see what her lunch plans are for today. Who is picking up my teenaged daughter from volleyball camp? It's me right. Wait, I think her grandmother is handling that. I need to call her. I can't download the R-56 notes from my work email. Is this the phone call where I find out if next project is in Maryland or Houston or Fort Lauderdale. I'll call my boss back.

I turn the button back on. My transformation is complete with in seconds.

 I am feeling the heat off Johnny Marr's guitar strings as he begins The Smith's How Soon Is Now? The music moves through my body. I vision a small, cramped, sweat drenched London Club in 1988. I can smell warm beer and British desperation. The last notes play. I turn the button off.

I have to call my boss back. We're on great terms. I have a feeling this is the big call. I text my mother in law and my wife. Finally, the notes download. I can't wait to hit that button again. This time, maybe, I'll be in Los Angeles in the late 1960s.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Queens of Noise

Just when I think I am going soft and enjoying my family's pop music and reality shows too much, something happens to bring my snob back. I just finished watching the movie about 1970s all-girl rock and roll band The Runaways.

For the uniniated and the unaware, The Runaways were one of the first hard rock groups formed with female members on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles in 1975. The lineup featured rock legends Joan Jett on rythym guitar and vocals, Lita Ford on lead guitar (yeah, she's legendary, I said so), along with Cherie Currie as lead singer, drummer Sandu West and a revolving door of bassists including future Bangles member Micheal Steele.

The Runaways are a little overrated in the influence department, I believe, because more successful acts, like The Go Gos and The Bangles took the pop route. Jett and Ford found fame as solo acts. They're underrated musically. Cherry Bomb, Rock n Roll, and Queens of Noise are solid rock anthems. While Black Leather, Neon Angels, Hollywood and Dead End Justice are really good songs that are largely ignored except by musics geeks like me and musicans.

The movie is pretty much Cherie Currie and Joan Jett's version of The Runaways. Jett executive produced the thing and she doesn't get along with Lita Ford or any of the former base players and barely tolerates Sandi West. While Currie's biography anf her close friendship with Jett were the blueprint for the screenplay. As a result, while you get Jett and Currie's background, drug and sex antics and other life details, it glosses over their musical and other artistic dealings with the other members and their ex manager, the flamboyant Kim Fowley. Kristen Stewart, of the those Twilight movies, plays Jett. She gives the role the authenticity it needs. She looks like Joan, plays like Joan, and even sings like Joan. Dakota Fanning tries to conjure Cherie Currie, and fails. Currie had an underrated style and presence. Fanning is so dull, she sucks the life out of her role. Micheal Shannon is so over the top as Fowley that he's perfect. To this day, Fowley stalks the Sunset Strip carrying a cane with green hair, tyring to find the next big thing. Shannon captures Fowley well. The other roles are wallpaper. Sandi West and Lita Ford were major cogs in the Runaways machine. The lack of depth of their charaters is criminal. The Runaways were anarchic, wild, bad girls who did more than just booze and drug. they wrote a lot, played a lot, and tried really hard to be different. You get none of that in this movie.

The soundtrack is very good. The Stooges, David Bowie, Gary Glitter, The Sex Pistols, MC5 and Suzi Quatro (Joan Jett's musical mother) are all featured appropriately. Everyone looks the part (except Fanning) but things aren't just good enough.

As good as Sid and Nancy was as a movie, the documentary The Filth and the Fury about the Sex Pistols is better. It seems every time someone tries to tell a band's story, telling the real story with the real people works better.

That being said, I'm listening to The Runaways first album right now. It sounds great. Can't wait to return the movie to redbox.

Monday, July 19, 2010

This Is What It's Like

I sometimes go for days without contact with dudes. I walked into my office this morning and a guy I work with came up to me and said "Good Morning" and engaged me in conversation about the Braves weekend series with the Brewers, The British Open golf tournament, and something about his bad back that I really didn't need to know about. I almost hugged him. Weird, huh? Somewhere between how to pronounce the guy's name that won the British Open, and his slipped disc it ocurred to me that his male voice was the first I had heard in two days, and before my trip this past Saturday to Lake Lanier with friends, it was three days before that. I live with 4 women. I hang out with my sister in law and her daughter a lot. I have a really good relationship with my mom, my mother in law, and my best friend is female. I talked to her this weekend as well. When my wife told me we were invited to the lake with her work friends and some other friends I started counting how many guys would be there. When I realized there would be more than one, I started daydreaming about sports talk, laughing at our significant others, and caveman like grunting and hunting and gathering. I may be hyperbolizing.

I am blessed with the wife and three daughters I have. My sister in law has become my sister. My mother in law is awesome, I wish I could make mother in law jokes, but I can't, she's just terrific. We are all together a lot. One question I get asked every day is "what's that like?" Well this is what it's like:

I'm a morning person, so is my almost 7 year old Lyla aka Bug. No one else in the house wants to be up before noon. I try to not be overly happy or ambitious before 9 o'clock. This staves off fights, arguments, misunderstandings and hard feelings. It does not keep away evil glares or viscious eyerolls. We have no set eating times in our house. So, when ever the women want to eat, I either eat or I abstain. Cleaning or housekeeping defers to me. Not because they're all messy, well they are, but because when the women want to clean, they'll clean, and clean well, but if they don't, asking gets the glares, eyerolls, and some sort of Georgia Voo Doo that I can't talk about. So I just pick up what I want and be patient.

The almost 6 year old, Carly aka Goose, runs the house. This isn't even debatable. Everyone agrees. Even our dog, a golden retriever named Buddy aka Buddy, does what the Goose says. Goose doesn't have a mean bone in her 37 pound body, but her personality is tour de force. It's her world and we are all just time sharing. She prances when she walks. She sings. She dances. She does all of this at the dinner table. Goose calls herself a Princess. She always will tell you that her goal is to be a Queen. I would expect the United Statses to be a monarchy in 20 years, prepare yourself.

Bug is the tomboy. Her personality is embullient with a capital E. She expects everyone to be in a good mood all the time. She's the only one the house that acts like they give a darn about what I think, but I suspect she does it to get something from me when she wants it. She worships her older sister, Taylor aka Tay, the 14 year old. Bug alternates between playing dress up and make up with her sisters to running around outside with me playing sports with bloody knees and dirty fingernails.

Tay is a teenager. She's been written about previously. Have you ever lived with a teenager? It's like living with 20 different people, all of which are crazy. She's funny, loud, and goofy one minutes, surly and moody the next. She thinks the Bring It On movies are Citizen Kane like, and I just nod my head in agreement, it prevents the glares and eyerolls, temporarily.

My wife, Deana, aka Bobina or Bo, is the ringleader for most of the nonsense. Goose and Bo are just a like, while Tay, Bug, and I are the most similar. Bobina was Goose many years ago, now,  out of perfect motherly love, she defers to her youngest daughter. I have never talked Bobina into anything, and I never will. In return she loves me unconditionally and allows me control of the remote, well, except when Grey's Anatomy is on. As good of a wife as Bobina is, she's a better friend. She listens, she retorts, she hugs and kisses when necessary. we actually make a good parenting team, as it requires as least two people to clamp down on the three girls. She and Tay often do things to make me crazy for entertainment purposes. I have learned to let them have their "fun'.

Attempts at organization in our house are a joke. Sometimes even a funny joke. Grocery lists are seen as optional. Impluse buying is what the cool kids do. I just make sure we have toilet paper and toothpaste. The rest I leave to them.

The best part about living with four women is there is a lot of love. Goose is the most affectionate. She gets to run things because she hugs and kisses the most. Her favorite place to sit is your lap. Her body temperature is, on average, 37 degrees higher than most humans. So she's an expert cuddler, especially in the winter. Bug and Bobina like to hug a lot. Bug still likes daddy enough to give affection without being begged, but she's starting to wane. Tay sees any contact with someone other than her peer group as vile and unnecessary. I steal my hugs and kisses from her. Tay is remarkably open to affection when there's something at the mall she wants. You have to know how to handle that. Buddy is just as needy and open as the Goose. He makes a great footstool.

I try to treat the three girls equally. They hate that. Tay wants to be treated like an adult, we butt heads as a result. Bug wants to be treated like Tay, since she still struggles with long division and shoe tying, that's not happening. Goose wants to already be treated like The Queen. Finances and her lack of experience inside the monarchy prevent this. Bobina likes it when I say yes dear, and shut up when I'm supposed to. Our marriage has been outstanding since I started doing these things. I am not allowed to do hair, make up, or anything that coincides with any of the four's appearance. I am required to cook hamburgers (my specialty, I'll post a recipe soon) at least once every 10 days. My participation in Uno games, and bike riding along with taking them all to the park is mandatory.

What's it like living with 4 women and hanging with 3 or more other females a lot? It's insane, fun, loving, interesting and something I wouldn't want to be any different.

Friday, July 16, 2010


A storm is rolling over my home. My golden retriever is pacing, anxiety ridden over the thunder, lightning and steady rain hitting the house. The baseball game I am watching is a rout, and I have lost interest. The sound of water hitting siding reminded me of a profound period in my life. Lyla (Bug) , my almost seven year old daughter was born August 30, 2003. Due to sickness of her birth mother, I was the primary care giver for Lyla's first few months. I was terrified and grossly unprepared. I knew of no nursery rhymes or children's songs to comfort her and make her sleep. The late summer and early fall she was born, it stormed a lot. This rain tonight reminds me of the precipitation that slapped the house we were living it then. It was a stressful time. The marriage was bad, the job I had was not lasting, I was overwhelmed with a beautiful but tiny new born who needed food and a diaper every 2 to 3 hours. During the parenting times, I starting singing Beatles songs. My parents had introduced me to the tunes when I was a kid and I knew so many Beatles songs word for word, it was easy to sing them to comfort Lyla. 

My favorite Beatles albums are Revolver, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Abbey Road , When Lyla and I weren't catching up on a 2am ESPN SportsCenter, I was warbling Eleanor Rigby , Good day Sunshine, Tomorrow Never Knows, With A Little Help From My Friends, Getting Better, When I'm 64, Sgt Pepper, Oh Darling, Here Comes The Sun, She Came In Through the Bathroom Window, and Lylabug's favorite Beatles song from birth - Octopus' Garden (she likes Ringo, get off her). It's how we bonded. I would scoop this little five pound miracle in my arms, put a 4 ounce bottle in her mouth (she never finished it) and sang til she smiled and eventually slept.

This blog isn't about how great the Beatles are. The Beatles are such an accomplished band, they are overrrated, underrated , rated just about right, rock, pop, alternative, old, new. dated and artistic. This blog is about how the music of a great group can make a special memories. When I met my wife and my other two daughters, they told me they weren't Beatles fans. Lyla and I just smiled. we knew what they meant to us. Every once in a while one of my three kids will ask about their baby years and the assorted memories will be distributed to each child. Lylabug and I made our way through a stressful, scary time with the music that became the building block of rock and roll.

The rain continues. Recently I heard about  a traveling stage show based on Beatles music called Rain. I thought about taking the kids to it, I may still. If I don't make it to that show, I will will break out my Beatles records and try to see what all three girls think. That's what's so amazing about music. It's the best art form. It can transport you to a different time and dimension. Earlier today, while going through a tough day, I listened to Revolver. The way the songs lay out are like a map for a middle aged man like me to follow. That's what the Beatles were so good at doing. Making pop songs relatable to anyone at anytime.

When I'm 64, I'm going to remind my grown kids that their dumb dad was once aware enough to play them The Beatles. I bet they'll do the same for their kids. My wife's asleep, I should go whisper in her ear "I'm Only Sleeping". I won't. But I may blast Sgt. Pepper just to see her jump up and laugh.

Ahhhh, to have great music in my life.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Get Viral

Stark white screen, an athletic looking man enter's the middle of the screen, there is no color, just balck and white image of an impressive looking guy, he speaks....."My name is Carl Crawford. My job is baseball. For the last 9 major league season I have played outfield for the Tampa Bay Rays. I'm career .300 hitter. I led my team from the depths of last place to a World Series. I've led the league in triples three times. I have all five tools, my speed is the best one. (intermittent highlights of Crawford playing baseball play) I am 28 years old. Most of you would say I am at my peak as an athlete. I need a place to play baseball in 2011. Do you think I am good enough to play for your team? I do. The screen goes black. The words Carl Crawford outfielder free agent 2011 fill the screen.

There is no NIKE swoosh. There is no MLB logo. Just Crawford, his highlight real, and a buddy or two with good camera work and graphics techniques. The video doesn't play on the MLB Network. It doesn't appear on FOX, ABC, NBC, CBS, or ESPN. It appears everywhere else. It pops up on youtube first, then twitter, then facebook, then blogs, then ipads, itouches, cell phones, and the mainstream media takes notice. Reporters look into the video. The viral marketing is something studios do with movies like Cloverfield or artists like Christina Aquilera. this is different. It is discovered that Carl Crawford fired his agent and hired a publicity firm after he and friends made the video. Suddenly another video appears on you tube.

The picture is black and white again. Crawford is walking down Madison Avenue. He stops to give money to a street person. He looks up at the buildings of great commerce. He looks back at the camera. "I don't want this. I want to play hard for your baseball team. I don't want to be marketed, packaged or sold. I have money. I want more than money. I want to be great at what I do. (the camera pans by Mets' Citi Field and Yankees' Yankee Stadium then comes back to Crawford serious , determined face) All I want to do is play baseball. That ok with you." End

The videos get millions of hits. The mainstream press hounds Crawford for interviews. He signs a new contract with someone for even more money than he was looking for. He pays his publicity firm and business manager fees. There's no agent asking for 5 percent. No corporate logo associated with Crawford. Just a man playing baseball, thanks to viral marketing.

This is all fiction. It will never happened. It's as likely as the "awesome" video the Barney Stillman character made on How I Met Your Mother sitcom ever getting anyone hired at a company. yet the Crawford idea is realistic. It is possible.

Remember Lisa Loeb? She was an unsigned, unheard of coffee house singer who lived in the same apartment building with actor Ethan Hawke. Hawke was making Reality Bites with ben Stiller in late 1993. Hawke gave Stiller Loeb's demo tape, her song Stay was used in the film, and six months later, Loeb had the number one song in the country with no corporate backing, She was still unsigned.

Imagine a band getting popular through videos on youtube or myspace or twitter. Can you say Justin Bieber? Athletes, actors, specialty business people, publicists could all use viral marketing.

Crawford has apparel deals. He's been the focus of ads through FOX TV and MLB Network. People know who he is, because the Rays are a good team. yet, if Crawford wanted to make more money, be more known he could do so without Nike, ESPN, or Scott Boras (superevilagent). Crawford will be one of the top free agents on the market after the season. He's only 28 and he's really really good at baseball. He's the prime candidate to do something like this. With LeWaBo and the Miami Heat phenomena of recent weeks, the way free agency in sports and the way musicians are discovered is changing. The above idea of Carl Crawford's free agent pitch to the American public via viral would have Yankee, Brave, Met, Dodger, Padre, Angel, Cub, Red Sox, fans clamoring for their team to sigh the guy. Crawford's buzz alone would make him the money an agent could get in "negotiations" with teams the regular way. Bands or artists could bypass those cheesy sleezy record executives and those A & R jokes known as showcases and take their music to the public.

Carl Crawford, if you're reading this, if you can front about three grand for video and editing equipment and signs some baseballs for my daughters, I could make you decently rich and almost famous.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Goodbye, Mr. Steinbrenner

Rarely does someone die when you can say as much good about them as bad and still regard them as great. George Steinbrenner had a heart attack this morning. The owner of the New York Yankees turned 80 years old 9 days ago. Today he is gone. George Steinbrenner was mean, generous, loud, abrasive, kind, unique, impatient, caring, willful, obnoxious, bullying, felonious, pardoned, wistful, funny, hard, insensitive, loyal, weird, old fashioned, a visionary, brilliant, dumb, successful and a winner. He led a full, amazing life.

Steinbrenner was born 80 years ago in Rocky River, Ohio, near Lake Erie and Cleveland, to a wealthy ship freighting family. He graduated with a B.A. from Williams College in Massachusetts in 1952. His favorite sport was football, where he was an accomplished running back. After a stint in the Air Force, he went to Ohio State for graduate studies and was a student coach for the legendary Woody Hayes and the Ohio State football team. After getting married he was an assistant football coach at both Northwestern and Purdue in the late 1950s. During this time he joined his father's business and helped revitalize a failing Great Lakes shipping company.

Steinbrenner combined his business acumen, large dreams, and passion for sports early in his professional life. In 1960 he purchased the struggling basketball team Cleveland Pipers of the ABL. The league folded in 1962, yet Steinbrenner paid off all creditors, and made a name for himself in the pro sports business. During this time he saw his shipping business flourish and he used his money to finance Broadway plays, thus connecting him to New York and the social scene in the area.

CBS had owned the Yankees since 1965 and the team had lost stars and never recovered from those losses. By the early 1970s the Yankees, once the class of baseball with 20 championships, were moribund and not profitable. Against the wishes and advice of everyone he knew, Steinbrenner bought the Yankees for 8.8 million dollars. Steinbrenner saw Charlie O. Finley and his Oakland Athletics teams dominated baseball in the early 70s. They won 3 consecutive World Series with flamboyant uniforms, style, and outrageous characters for players. Steinbrenner's first move was attempting to buy the Athletics manager Dick Williams. It failed (Williams was still under contract with Oakland). During this time Steinbrenner was indicted on 14 criminal counts. In 1974 Steinbrenner pleaded guilty to making illegal campaign contributions to Richard Nixon and obstruction of justice. Steinbrenner's hubris got him suspended from baseball for fiftteen months while he paid the US government $35,000. He returned to the Yankees in 1976.

By the mid 70s, baseball had entered an era of free agency; allowing players to change teams once their contracts were completed with their previous clubs. Steinbrenner used his money and the Yankees' appeal to cash in. He gave record contracts to stars such as Reggie Jackson and Jim "Catfish" Hunter. By 1977, the Yankees were World Champions again, powered by Jackson's three home runs in three at bats in a world series game. They repeated as champions in 1978. I used to watch those teams with my dad and we'd say to each other "I wish that guy owned the Braves."

Steinbrenner legacy with the Yankees covered the gambit of innovation - he was the first owner to sell tv cable rights (MSG Network) - to pettiness - he demanded players have strict grooming habits, even beching players like Don Mattingly for having inappropriate facial hair - to criminal - he hired lowlife Howie Spira to dig up dirt on star player Dave Winfield and Steinbrenner was banned for life (he came back two years later) - to enviable, determined, win at all costs without apology attitude. he hired and fired legendary Yankee player and manager Billy Martin five times. He gave opportunities to drug suspended players Steve Howe, dale Berra, Dwight Gooden, and Darrel Strawberry to improve their lives and careers when no one else would. he showered his players praise, ridicule, money, abuse, and fame. Stories abound of his generosity. Fay Vincent, the man who banned Steinbrenner for life, former baseball commissioner went to college with Steinbrenner. The longtime football coach of Williams college became stricken ill, and Steinbrenner called Vincent (post banning) and asked if they could together help the coach and his wife until their deaths financially. Steinbrenner later retired to Tampa, Florida and stories of his charitable donations to the area are abundant.

George Steinbrenner patterned a public perception as a General George S. Patton (his hero), for he felt fear, intimidation, and authority would demand respect. That didnt' always work. In his later years he saw the kinder, gentler public profiles of his star players like Derek Jeter, Paul ONeill, David Cone, Mariano Rivera, and Jorge Posada, positioned with the the fatherly manager Joe Torre, make the Yankees new fans worldwide. Steinbrenner acknowleged these men had softened him a bit. His sons Hal and Hank Steinbrenner run the Yankees now. The team is coming off a 40th American League Pennant and 27th World Series title (7 in the Steinbrenner ownership era). The Yankees are worth over a billion dollars.

Few men live lives like George Steinbrenner. Few men can honestly say they were great. Goodbye George Steinbrenner. You will be missed.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Pop Zombies

I live among the dead. Four beautiful women, aged 33 to almost 6. They are zombies. I call them pop zombies. They consume pop music, pop culture, soda pop, and jiffy pop popcorn. Their appetites for all things pop are ravenous. This week, they are gourging on the final season of Hannah Montana. As a result of this pop culture event, my beautiful, big hearted, sweet demeanored pop zombies are in top form.

For the past two years I have been well behaved, keeping my music snobbery, and well, general snobbery to a minimum. I draw the line at Miley Cyrus and her television alter ego Hannah Montana. For the uniniated, here's your thumbnail sketch of Miley and Hannah: early 90s country music fad Billy Ray Cyrus (remember The Achey Breaky Heart and the uber mullet?) had a daughter after his fifteen minutes of fame were up in 1992. That daughter got her own television show on the Disney Channel in 2006. She plays a girl named Miley (you have to admire her range_ who has a double life as a teen pop sensation named Hannah Montana. A blonde wig and some light tricks and suddenly everyone thinks there's just Hannah. The show became an instant hit. Albums, books, dolls, you name it, have been created and sold; making the Cyrus family multi-something.

I know I liked some lame stuff as a little kid. I refuse to admit to any of it. If someone calling herself my mother posts any information about my childhood, ignore it. It's not true, I'm almost sure of that. So, I excuse my two grade school age daughters for buying the Miley hype. My wife and my teenager? They have questions to answer. My house is fervored with the last season of Miley, Billy Ray, and Hannah.

Miley Cyrus is about to turn 18. She has already taken provocative pictures, gotten a tattoo or two, and hung out with Bret Micheals and other adult stars trying to shake her life of the Disney channel and the Hannah Montana persona. She had a contract to honor and zombies to feed so she is giving in to one last season of this forsaken show. I watched her Hannah Montana movie with my kids earlier this year. I know I will never get back those two hours of my life. Yet, I can hold on to the 30 minutes spans of time they now enjoy, watching this television show.

When they consume pop, Hannah Montana, New Kids On The Block, Taylor Swift Kesha, whatever, I  laugh. Deep inside the cockles where my heart is supposed to be I fear for their souls; if pop zombies have souls. I am glad they're enjoying themselves. I am also glad they attend church. Maybe they can be balanced that way.

The pretty pop zombies want me to tell you that Hannah Montana Forever, The Final Season comes on at 8pm Sunday nights on the Disney Channel. Also, Miley Cyrus' new album Can't Be Tamed is in stores now. Now, must watch baseball home run derby. Must check major league baseball trade rumors. Must consume twitter. Nom Nom Nom Nom...Ahhhhhhh!

Friday, July 9, 2010



It's official. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, further known as LeWaBo, have joined the NBA's Miami Heat as free agent changing the player landscape of the Eastern Conference and likely changing the way players approach and use free agency.

I know so many of you are sick of the entire story and the media cesspool it has created but I have a few thoughts to put my interest in the Situation (fistpump) and then I will rest.

1) LeBron James has talked about his brand so much I expect him to turn into a hologram and float over my house in a blimp when his name comes up. He views himself as a businessman. Well, for once, he looked at himself as a basketball player and decided that winning was more inportant than making money and achieving fame. He will be making less money in Miami so that he can co-exist with Wade and Bosh. They will share the wealth, the fame, and status. James deserves applause for that. We ask athletes to be about winning, not money. Now a dude does that and we hate on him.

2) LeBron James deserves scorn and loss of respect for leading Cleveland to believe he was staying. he is from Akron, Ohio. He has spent his seven year career increasing the profile of Cleveland. They do deserve respect. He showed them little by conducting a dog and pony show for the last month. I believe James was going to Miami all along, so making the Clippers, Knicks, Nets, Bulls, and Cavaliers think otherwise shows James to be dishonest and immature. Even if James was considering returning to Cleveland, using a one hour special on ESPN last night was the wrong way to go about his business.

3) The Heat's President, Hall of Fame caliber coach and player, Pat Riley, deserves to executive of the year award for using his best player (Dwyane Wade) as a consigliare to snare Bosh and James. The Heat just traded away Micheal Beasley to the Timberwolves to clear cap (money) room. They signed pure shooter Mike Miller. They likely will keep rebounder Udonis Haslem (a good player). The Heat will be a very good team, even this year.

4) Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert is a classless, unprofessional, dishonest jerk. His childish reaction to LeBron James' decision; calling James a quitter a quitter, a coward and some other words. So, what future free agent would want to sign with Gilbert's team? Gilbert twice wanted to sign this "coward" and "quitter" to a hundred million dollar contract. See the dishonesty? Gilbert's Hamlet act just doesn't work.

5) The real reason people are angry or put off is the players had the power. I stole this analysis from sports commentator Dan Le Batard, who lives Miami. Usually the owners have the power. For two months LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh made very rich, successful men look like buffoons. During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, these three athletes put together a plan and executed it. Cleveland, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and New Jersey feel like they were tricked by a bunch of spoiled, egotistical basketball players. They were.

Ok, I'm done with this.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Magnitude of Me

"Sometimes I underestimate the magnitude of me." - Reggie Jackson

Over thirty years have passed since Hall of Fame baseball player Reggie Jackson said that line into the microphones of New York sports reporters. It reeks of arrogance and oozes self-satisfaction. Yet, any athlete, entertainer, politician, or successful business person will tell you, those around them will verify, that confidence is mandatory for achievement.

Tonight, a baskettball player will command the attention of the sports network ESPN, for the sole purpose of announcing where he will play bastketball for the 2010-2011 season, That's all. That will be the extent of the information given over a one hour block of time. Since the completion of the 2009-2010 NBA season, LeBron James, the talented and very famous basketball player for the Cleveland Cavaliers has dominated internet, television, radio, and newspaper buzz because he is an unrestricted free agent. The professional lives of otehr NBA team executives, players, agents, coaches,and fans will be greatly affected by his decision. Thats' not the issue I care about. What gets me the ego involved with using your own television program to self aggrandize.

A minimum of five times a week I use this line on my three daughters and my wife, "not everything is about you." They also use the line on me. The point we are making to each other, especially to our kids, is you are part of something larger than yourself. Other people have feelings, cares, desires, dreams, and interests. You should never put yourself above anyone else, especially your family, for selfish needs. I live with four women, this message is sometimes lost because clothes, hair, stuff needs to be acknowledged and dealt with.

I understand that some people, mostly famous, uber successful ones, have egos that are necessarily larger than mine and I can never understand the world they live in of wealth. LeBron James has earned  a level of fame that may require a one hour televsion special to stroke his ego. I don't pretend to get it, but I will at least allow him his platform. What drives me a little crazy sometimes are the people who live in a world similar to mine who desire to have a basketball player's or rock star's ego.

How many people have you known in your life who seem to cause so much drama and trauma without having anything, seemingly, negative affect them? I call these people walking car crashs. They cause monumental pileups behind them while they move along unaffected. They even blame you or others for whatever problems they have, yet they have caused issues for themselves and others around them. I think LeBron James is one fo these people. He may choose to leave his current team and cause a mediocre organization in a mediocre city to collapse. he may go to a high profile market like New York and inflate the fortunes of himself and those around him. He may go down to Miami with two of his friends, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and create a media circus triple team that will handcuff an organization financially while leaving them unable to sign players that will help them win, the real goal of any athlete, well, for most athletes, right?

Everyone has an ego. Sigmund Freud wrote all about that over a hundred years ago. I even tell my wife and kids that it's ok to be assertive and selfish sometimes so as not to be run over by bullies. I am a people pleaser by nature. So are two of my kids. yet, I try to make sure I do not become co-dependent for fear of losing my own identity. That's what this blog and my twitter are for, to express my personal, and sometimes selfish opinions. yet, I do not negatively affect the important people in my life with either outlet. I also could never envision calling ESPN to announce where I was goingt tow rok next year. Although my wife, a chef, has wanted to call the Food Network to brag about what she's made for dinner. I don't blame her, she's good.

I don't care where LeBron James plays hoops next year. I will likely cheer against him, as I did Reggie Jackson, as a kid. The infliction of ego onto others is a vice that just can not even kind of like. Now, I have to go link my blog to everyone I know, and brag about my oh so unique thoughts on everything I care about. What? Should my next blog entry be about hypocrisy?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

You Better Run

You better run all day and run all night
and keep your dirty feelings deep inside

Run Like (Heck) - Pink Floyd

I think I made God angry today. He said rest on the sabbath. I got up 2 & 1/2 hours early; 5:01am, got my wife, kids and dog up, drove us to the Doraville Marta station, hopped a train to Lenox Square and ran 6.2 miles. I did not do any of this for money. I am not qualified for that. Some Canadian dude is. He completed the 6.2 road race in a touch over 18 minutes and picked up a check. I got a t-shirt, which I gave to my kids. So, why would I take up a morning of perfect sunshine to just run? I accomplished something.

Eleven years ago, I was 35 pounds heavier, coming off "a cardiac event"; both physically and mentally I was miserable. After a couple of years of better eating and a lot of working out, I tried to think of something that would test my body, and award the hard work. I decided to try my hand at a July 4th tradition in Atlanta, Georgia, the Peachtree Road Race. The Race is a 6.2 mile run starting from Lenox Square and finishing at Piedmont Park. This year 55 thousand people ran the course. That's the equivalent of a Georgia Tech football game crowd.

This year my motivation was different. I have been in good shape for seven years. Yet, I turn 40 years old this September and I wondered if my body could handle something competitive. I am not handling turning 40 well. I will write a lot more about the ominous calendar day, so you have been warned. I wanted to accomplish something, like a positive check in the you're not as old as people think column.

After getting off the train, I followed the herd of fellow runners. The running groups were lettered A through X. I'm sure the Canadian dude and his 18 minute showoff sprint was in a special group marked "jerks". I didn't see them. As I walked down Peachtree and headed to ward Lenox, I'm pretty sure I was walking longer than I was actually running later. The race folks did a good job with signs and volunteers, I knew where to go. My group was letter X. The last group. As in, you are in the group that won;t be picking up a check or running anything in 18 minutes. I saw a lot of people. People from every race, creed, national origin. I saw kids as young as 10 (the youngest age that could run the race), men and women as old as 80. I saw people in costumes. Uncle Sam, Lady Liberty, and Yankee Doodle Dandy were donned by dozens of people, with sneakers on their feet finishing off their hey look at my patriotism. I saw a woman dressed as Marilyn Monroe and her significant other was dressed as Joe Dimaggio, circa 1950s NewYork Yankees baseball uniform. Their sneakers looked even sillier. I saw lots of tattoos. Some were awesome. Some were sad. Some were just bad. I felt very secure with my six tattoos, two of which were visible as I decided on a black sleeveless workout shirt. Yes, black; I'm not almost smart.

My family went with me. They took their train to Piedmont Park. While they waited for me at the finish line, the kids got free ice cream, trinkets, and bottles of juice. The race folks had hospitality areas that meant my wife, kids, sister in law and niece were able to drink, play, and snack free of charge, I was so happy they had a good time.

My X group had to wait til 8:58am to start. For the record, my favorite X-Man is Wolverine, my least favorite Peachtree Road Race to start is X, I hope I don't get that one again. As I waited, I people watched, downed free water, listened to my ipod, tweeted (at one point a woman saw me tweeting and started tweeting about me tweeting. Pretty sure that's the 5th horseman of the apocalypse), and started realizing that my vanity and self esteem boost wasn't the main reason for running the 'Tree. I was having fun.

The gun sounded, and my group started running. In previous racing, I had bolted like a sprinter and given out halfway through the run. This time I was more economical in my energy. I started running next to a dad with his 10 year old son. The kid was smoking us. I just enjoyed his enthusiasm and looked for a water stand. As, The Sex Pistols gave way to Foo Fighters gave way to Notorious B.I.G. gave way to Counting Crows in my earbuds I watched older people smile and winch through their day of holding off old age. I watched young children bound with unchecked energy as they saw their whole lives ahead of them. I watched dudes like me, feeling good on a day of liberty. Mile 4 happened quicker than I thought. I had my phone on me and used it to keep time. I crossed the mile 4 marker at 43 minutes. Better than I had expected. I could do this thing in a touch over an hour. I got my tail kicked by cardiac hill downtown, ran into a 12 year old girl getting water, exchanged high fives with a two year old boy somewhere around Peachtree Road. I had some energy in reserve as I reached mile 5 and texted my wife. Finally I hit mile 6. This deal was about done. I downed one last cup of water, made me way to the middle of the road and jogged heartily pass people much younger than me. I saw the finish line past Piedmont Way. I did a Jersey Shore fist pump and looked at my time, 1 hour 6minutes 26 seconds, I was satisfied. I wasn't in an ambulance, my body was tired not beaten, and I had some of the most fun I could ever have wearing tennis shoes.

My mother would later ask me why I was giving my t-shirt away to my teenaged daughter. My response was "because she asked for it". The truth is, I didn't care about the shirt. I ran this thing for the fun of it and if I could make my kid happy along with her sisters and her mom, mission accomplished. After picking up the shirt and a bottle of water, my legs began to cramp. Pain filled my calves, quadriceps and hips. I smiled through it and hugged my kids and kissed my wife. It had been a good run, and a good day. It was only 10:06 a.m.