I’ll be happy to see 2013 go but sad to be leaving important people and things behind. Before we forge ahead to 2014, let’s take a last look at the year that was in the Kingdom of the Cat’s Pajamas:
The year started off with the retirement of my longstanding sixty-inch TV. I financed the big girl when I was 19, paid it off when I was 26, a few years longer than planned at inception. But it was mine and I somehow moved that 350lb beast six different times, up narrow stairs, down steep stairs, you name it, before the wife said it was time for the TV’s last move, the move out.
One night after dinner I noticed that my first I-Phone was gone. I had put it on the roof of my car outside Longfellow’s and forgot about it. My poor phone.
On Easter Sunday, the cancer cloud came. My wife felt a lump that ended up being advanced cancer. Things got real dark after that.
When it looked like Kobe might lead my Lakers to a surprise playoff run, he went down with a gruesome achilles injury with four seconds left on the game clock, while playing the best ball of his career at 35 years old. As I write this, Kobe’s out again. This was a bad injury to an all-time great baller.
Then the real life Erin Brockavich gets arrested. Say what?
If my wife’s cancer wasn’t enough, my little puggle, Sophie Cinnamon, was diagnosed with mast cell cancer. It was caught quick and cured, and Sophie waxed poetic to her heroic vet, Dr. Patrick.
Then it got real bad. The physically-devastating story of James Gandolfini’s death in Rome hit the world. I could never describe what Tony Soprano and THE SOPRANOS has meant to me. I can’t even see a picture of Gandolfini or look at a clip of him on camera without suffering a suffocating sadness.
I should’ve known any summer that starts with the death of Tony Soprano wasn’t going to go well. In July, my oldest friend, Chris Premo, was involved in a nightmarish accident on a construction site. After five days in the hospital, he passed away, breaking the heart of a whole community. Chris’s death rocked my world in ways that I still can’t completely understand. It is the saddest, sickest thing I’ve ever seen. It wasn’t supposed to be Chris.
One month later, Chis returned. Well, he kind of did.
Two months later, my wife went into remission.
I’ll leave you with the words of two great giants, both lost way too soon in 2013. Maybe "Giants" isn't the best way to describe them, because my beloved NY Giants SUCKED in 2013 too. Let's call them two legends then.
“If you’re lucky, you’ll look back and remember the little moments, like this, that were good.” –Tony Soprano
“There’s still hope in this crazy world.” –Chris Premo
Bring on 2014!
Sunday, December 22, 2013
I’ve become bored with going out to dinner. When my wife asked about Saturday night, I said I was happy staying home, eating w/ TV. Sadly she left, and a knock came at the front door. I opened and there was Steve Barnes from the TIMES UNION’s “Table Hopping” Blog. He told me I had to relearn the “true” meaning of going out to dinner, and on that night, I would be visited by three ghosts, to which I said, “Wow, three ghosts, huh?” Steve did not take kindly to my sarcastic tone, and squeezed a hand around my windpipe, dropping me like a sack. He screamed, “You fool, this is your LAST chance to learn the true meaning of going out to dinner. Don’t waste it.”
I forgot about Barnes’s visit, went to bed early, stuffed with homemade grilled cheese and canned soup. At 1AM, I felt a breeze blow through the window. I came awake and there stood Shannon, our former waitress from the Villa Valenti. “Are you the ghost,” I asked, and she said, “Of going out to dinner past.” I was then lifted over my sleeping wife and dogs and airborne into the night. We landed outside the Villa Valenti, and looked in the icy windows of a winter night. I was in the back booth with my wife and our friends: Jill and Brent. We talked over a table packed with breads and wines and apps, as Shannon delivered pasta entrees. Then we buzzed to the next destination, the icy window at Prime in Downtown Albany, and I saw me and my wife sitting with our friends: Jamie and Sana. The piano played as we talked and laughed. “That was the best night,” I said, and Shannon said, “But you forgot about that fun, didn't you?”
At 2AM the same breeze blew and I snapped awake to see Kay, our D’Raymond’s waitress, at the hanging mirror in our attached bathroom, fixing her frosted bangs. She told me to hurry up and follow her through the bathroom window. She doesn't have all night and wasn’t getting tips on this job. I jumped from bed and followed and then we were sitting at the LaPorto’s bar, and I saw me and my wife at the corner table, alone, and I was texting away while she stared off bored and unhappy. It was the same scene at Longfellow’s, the Old Brien Inn, and finally D’ Raymond’s itself, where I only tipped Kay six percent, which she read sadly off the receipt when we’d gone. “You didn’t even finish your shrimp parm or order dessert that night,” she reminded me, and I said, “Please, ghost, no more.” Kay said, “You forged these memories yourself.” Then, “You still owe me the other fourteen percent.”
3AM came and I woke to the TV on loud. I sat up and on the screen saw the 90-year-old sample lady from Hannaford. She was handing out some kind of cheese packaged in Dixie cups. Then I saw me taking one of those samples. I had a cart filled with boxed foods and frozen goods, and I looked old, and hunchbacked, and alone. It was a sad sight and I grabbed the remote, changed the channel, saw my wife older but looking alive, with a new man, laughing and drinking wine and having a great time on the town. I changed the channel again, I had to, and I saw myself inside a small apartment, hunched over a standing tray in front of an oozing TV screen. I tried turning the TV off, but couldn’t, and when I looked at my wife’s side of the bed, it was empty, and the dogs were gone.
I grabbed my cell phone off the side table and saw the time: 10AM. I was awake. I jumped from bed and ran to the kitchen. There was a note on the fridge that read: TOOK DOGS TO PET SMART. Then: GROCERY SHOPPING FOR DINNER. With the back of my hand, I smeared those dry erased words away. I sprinted to the living room window, saw a young couple in matching jogging suits power walking by. It’s the Burbs, what can I say? I threw open the window, and said, “Hey you, kind neighbors, what day is it?” They stopped at the same time, took a second to spot me, and the man responded, “Why it’s the Sunday before Christmas, sir.” And I pumped fist and said, “Do you still think there’s time to book a restaurant table for X-Mas Eve?” The man considered this: “Probably nothing before eight, but yes, sir, I believe there’s time.” I said, “Thank you, friend! Thank you!” And threw the window shut. The garage door lurched open underneath, signaling my family’s return. “I haven’t missed it after all,” I proclaimed.
Sunday, December 15, 2013
dEAr santé CLOSS
you are very good and VERy great THIS YEAR I HAVE BEen xspECelee GoOd and thIs iz what I WANT foR ChrismaS
I wOOd like a PaIR of GiANts sokS TO weAr when Dey play the SUPeRBol at theyare stadiuM And I want TxketS to the GamE to C my favorite PlayeR Eli ManenG wIN the GAME! aNd I WANT a new CELL phoNe so I can TAKe SELFies with PeOPLE WHeN someone diE LIKE HoW OUr PrezIDEnt doEs. CaN I geTT a big STUffEd TeDDY Bear SO I caN DaNCE DIRtY wITH it in PUBlic and Then I B FAMOus Like MILLY CYRiS. CAn I GETT a dvD of MOvIe RUNNER runner becuZ JusTIN TimBerLake is GREATESt ACTor wHO EvER Lives AND HE MaKE the GREATESt MOVieS EVER! CAN ME hAvE KAtY PERRY Just BeCUZ. AnD cAN me HaVE the Dvd OF SeaSOn 1 OF WE ArE MEN IT iS great SHOW. CAn I GET 100 dollars to bUY New AWSUm GlaSSes so I CAn LOOK like ERIC SnowDeN becuz He is MOSt loved AmeriCan in WorlD CaN I gET AutoGRAPhED Copy of ROllInG StONE MagezENE wiTh THAT REallY COOL ROCK StaR FrOM BOsToN He BE called THE BOMBER He LOOK so cool ON THAT MaGAZinE! AnD LAST GiFT is YOGa PANTS FRoM LULULemoN For mY FAVORITe TEaCHER At SCHOOl. SHE HaVE BIG Legs AND I KNOw THEY WOOd REallE work FOR HER boDY
TNAnkYOu SantE CLOSS YOU Are VERy GOOD aNd VErY GREat
Sunday, December 8, 2013
It may surprise you to hear that I was not always the captain of industry I am today. As Christmas 2013 comes close, I reflect on my station in life, and think wow how have I reached so high? Respected (downright revered) by my colleagues, making well over 17,000 a year, and pretty much killing it on a daily basis. My path to such heights wasn’t easy. In fact, it was pretty weird. I wrote a holiday song about it called “The Twelve Firings of Brian.” Here it goes.
Oh the first time a fired, when the boss got rid of me, washing dishes at the Villa Valenti
Oh the second time a fired, when the boss got rid of me, caught giving out free turkey from the Price Chopper deli
Oh the third time a fired, when the boss got rid of me, told by Grand Union “you’re not supermarket material-e”
Oh the fourth time a fired, when the boss got rid of me, found sleeping on Taft Furniture’s inventory
Oh the fifth time a fired, when the boss got rid of me, an administrative assistant at Orange Ford & Mercury
Oh the sixth time a fired, when the boss got rid of me, driving an ice cream truck through the inner city
Oh the seventh time a fired, when the boss got rid of me, some office place in Latham that did the deed immediately
Oh the eighth time a fired, when the boss got rid of me, assistant leasing manager at a Chrysler joint called Armory
Oh the ninth time a fired, when the boss got rid of me, at Mary Jane Books, bounced out by a peace-loving hippie
Oh the tenth time a fired, when the boss got rid of me, vacuuming cars at Hoffman’s on Central Ave. in Albany
Oh the eleventh time a fired, when the boss got rid of me, a Barcelona's busser till they got sick of sharing tips w/ yours truly
Oh the twelfth time a fired, when the boss got rid of me, dishwashing with a bachelor’s at a retirement community
For those who fired me, it’s rather obvious you had a reason. With that said, I hope you and yours have a happy holiday season!
Saturday, November 30, 2013
Thanksgiving is over, and the cold weather is HERE, which means it's time for the Christmas lights to come out and the Christmas movies to go on. For the next month we'll be watching the following ten Christmas flicks, same way we do every year:
10. Four Christmases
8. Home Alone 2
7. Santa Claus the Movie
6. Trading Places
4. The Family Man
3. Home Alone
2. Bad Santa
1. National Lampoons Christmas Vacation
Read More: http://www.timeout.com/newyork/film/the-20-best-christmas-films
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Has anybody been following this story about the NYC Cop who caught a savage beating outside a Queens diner, while some guy cell-phoned the pummeling, then put it on You Tube and Facebook where it went viral? If you haven’t read the story, click here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2509184/NYPD-sergeant-Mohammed-Deen-beaten-inch-life-Queens.html. And if you think you can take it, here’s the link to the You Tube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvKflR6vltI. For countless reasons this story has haunted me all week. And suddenly I remember why I never said boo to anybody at the bars. Back in my going-out days, if some guy got in my face (‘You got a problem?’ drunken thug barks because he’s looking for a fight for any reason in the world), I always put my head down and walked the other way. ‘Hey, Brian, you’re a wimp.’ Oh, OK, but I still have both eyes and all my teeth.
Our friend, the Sgt. from Queens Mohammad Deen, was not so lucky. With his wife watching and screaming for the attacker to stop, he took a beating for the ages. I don’t mean he lost a tough street fight and walked away with ego bruised. I mean he was humiliated then eviscerated then ambulanced away on a stretcher where he was placed in a medically-induced coma, an inch from losing his life. There were no weapons, just good old fashioned bare knuckle, and by some accounts Deen had initiated the conflict earlier at a nearby nightclub. Some have even suggested he played big-shot cop to the wrong guy, a lunatic named Hayden Holder, who followed Deen to the diner, and the rest is history.
Before we go further, I will tell you Deen’s going to make a full recovery, albeit a long one, but I don’t know how a man ever comes back from that, especially when that man is a cop (the most testosterone-ish job on the planet) and double especially when the video of your whipping was viewed by millions on Facebook and You Tube. How does a man ever come back from that? Hayden Holder took everything from Officer Deen last Saturday night. When Deen’s back in business I can’t think of any situation where he’d publically puff his chest again. I don’t know how his wife could ever look at him as a protector again after watching from five feet away as some muscled thug treated him like a piñata. How could she? Am I wrong, ladies? Even death wouldn’t work as the easy way out here. If he’d died on that street, Deen would forever be the cop who got beaten to death on You Tube. Beaten. To. Death. Imagine living your whole life and going out like that? A man's worst nightmare.
As for the assailant, Hayden Holder, who’s inside with no bail set, facing attempted murder charges, the NYPD has already reported he’s on suicide watch. Yeah. OK. Seems like a reasonable thing to leak on a guy you’ll soon kill then make it look like an accident. Incarcerated. No bail. On tape spitting in a cop’s face as he lay in an unconscious heap, then trying to punch into the car and attack his terrified wife, who he would've instantly killed, I'm sure. Holder’s gone. He’s dead. RIP, Hayden Holder.
One of our very good friends is a downstate cop. I don’t mean one of those tools who flashes his small-town badge around and drunk drives 90mph through red lights on the weekends, because he can. He’s the other kind of cop, the kind who changes the room’s temperature when he enters it, and if this had ever happened to HIS partner, he’d personally put the guy in the ground. I don't mean that as a metaphor.
One night, outside Sadie’s way back, I played the part of tough guy. Going way-way-way outside character, I got in some guy’s face in a manner that suggested I wanted to fight. For the record, I didn’t, but I knew he didn’t. He wasn’t as big as me and a bit younger. I had him over the psychological barrel, so to speak, but if he’d raged up I probably would’ve wilted. He just didn’t. Oh yeah, his girlfriend (very cute girlfriend) was with him. Anyway, I punked him down, as the lingo goes. And as he slunk away, tail between his legs, I made a comment about collecting his girlfriend for myself. I’ll never forget the look of defeat that filled his eyes. And I’ll never ever forget the way she looked at him. She just found out Santa and the Easter Bunny were both fake, in the same crushing moment. And together they walked off, around the corner, and gone.
I hated myself for doing that. I still hate myself for it. If I could have that moment back, I would’ve let him drop me on the sidewalk and go off a hero. It’s weird, looking back, I would prefer to lose my shirt then to live with knowing the hurt I potentially inflicted that night, over nothing. This kid wasn't some hippie, Phish fan guy who could shrug it off because violence wasn't his rack. He was the Abercrombie and gelled hair and veiny arms of a gym rat. It hurt him what happened. I hate myself for it. Maybe that's actually a man's worst nightmare, having to live with the crap you caused in the world.
Saturday, November 16, 2013
This bullying story starring Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin of the Miami Dolphins is a witch hunt. I’m not suggesting that a 300lb behemoth “bullying” another of equal proportions is acceptable. What I’m ranting about here is how everybody, with any ranking with the Dolphins, has to now answer nonstop attacks on their own character, because they “let this happen.” From other players, to the coaches, to the GM, to the ownership group, how could all these evil people just let poor Jonathan Martin be terrorized? The media blitz. The threats against their jobs. This silly story is going to set anti-bullying back a generation.
What do you want Head Coach Joe Philbin or General Manager Jeff Ireland to do about bullying in the locker room and/or in life? Bullying’s as old as humanity itself. It’s like trying to stop barking and butt-sniffing in dogs. Obama can declare an anti-bullying day and schools can institute no-bullying initiatives till their blue in the face. It's the right thing to do, sure it is, but bullying, like Matt Barnes’ use of racial slurs, is here to stay.
Am I saying bullying is OK? No. But why does ESPN's NFL Live panel have to climb on their collective soapbox and proclaim that Richie Incognito is a racist, a racist I tell you? The artificial outrage on full blast. Why does the “inside talk” about Head Coach Joe Philbin’s hot seat have to swell? Let me tell you a little about Coach Philbin. After enduring the tragic death of his son, while working as an assistant in Green Bay, where he was beloved, and still is, Philbin pieced his broken life back together, grabbed his first-ever shot as an NFL head coach. He came into Miami and immediately turned that floundering culture around. Day one he dumped that toxic Chad Johnson. He developed a franchise quarterback and got busy winning. Now he’s in peril because he didn’t somehow thwart one grown man from hazing another grown man? Get a clue, armchair QBs. So if somebody gives Tom Brady a wedgie, the Patriots should part ways with Bill Belichick? Next up: The copycat stories cometh. There’s bullying on this team, that team, every team. It’s a slippery slope.
Does anybody remember when varsity football coach Kevin Earl was fired at Averill Park over a hazing incident in the shower room? Some kid was bullied, so he said, and his mother took it to the Supreme Court. Kevin Earl was out, gone, goodbye, and hasn’t coached since, reputation sizzled. Of course every PTA type railed up against the dismissed coach. Where was he? Why didn’t he stop it? But I ask: What did you want him to do? Shower with the team after practice? Yeah right. That wouldn've been problematic. Or follow fifty kids around the locker room then outside? Alpha boys bully beta boys in high school. It’s an unwritten rule, especially in football. Am I wrong?
While at AP, Earl turned that football program around. He gave his heart and soul to the high school. He came in on Saturdays to refinish the gym floor for nothing. Even now, years later, he still shows up at funerals and wakes and weddings. He truly cared about the student athlete, academic and athletic excellence. Then some kid gets “bullied” and Earl is yesterday’s trash. It was wrong. And this is coming from me, a kid who quit Coach Earl’s team. Anyone who went to AP in the 90’s knows what Earl really was. He was and still is "The Coach."
One day during double sessions, when I was a freshman playing JV ball, a few varsity boys got a hold of me at lunch. One lug ripped my padded pants down and the other pulled my shirt over my head. They dragged me bare-assed across the freshly-waxed, August floor of the cafeteria. In front of the varsity and JV football team PLUS the cheerleading squad, my naked rump went for a waxy ride. This was a year before Earl arrived, and the coach at the time was watching from the doorway, and laughing. I never said a thing. Then school started, and those same lugs, who’d ripped me around that floor, had my back for the rest of the year. Nobody said so much as boo to me. And when I was a senior, we did the same dumb thing to some unsuspecting freshman. Then loved him. I’m not saying it was right then or it’s right now. But it doesn’t matter what I say. It’s never going to fully end, even if you fire the whole world from it.
Read More: http://deadspin.com/report-joe-philbin-jeff-ireland-could-be-fired-for-in-1461828250
Monday, November 11, 2013
We made a dinner reservation for the new Carmine’s in Downtown Albany for this past Saturday night. When booking we had no idea the restaurant was on the first floor of the old Big House. But that’s where the GPS took us: 4 Sheridan. To say the least, I was nervous. I couldn’t believe I was about to have Italian cuisine on the spot of floor where I once danced to bad 80s music. The Big House was a weekend staple of my life in my 20s. Now fast forward a few years: The dance floor and DJ booth are gone, and the front windows that face Sheridan are plastered with black-and-white Carmine’s placards. This was going to be interesting.
For the record, the Big House (when it was the Big House and Pearl Street was Pearl Street) was the best bar ever. The three-floor monstrosity teemed with people every weekend, the music blared, and the drinks flowed; girls as far as the eye could see. There was never a “dead night” at the Big House. I remember one Thanksgiving Eve, there had to be 3,000 people packed in there. I loved the Big House. I was alive at the Big House. Magic happened at the Big House. And now I’m left to wonder: How in God’s name did the Big House go out of business? How!? When did hot girls and fun in a bottle stop appealing to the masses? When did Pearl Street fall down and die?
We walked in, said hello to Carmine, and to his credit, he has completely redesigned the room, making every effort (I’m sure) to erase all recognizable nuance that could (and would) make people hear the faint, faraway playing of “Jesse’s Girl” reverberating off the walls. He didn’t just throw up some tables and turn on the lights. The room was meticulously and cleverly redone so I couldn’t “quite” figure out, on first look, where everything had been when it was the Big House. It was kind of an optical illusion. But that didn’t stop me from spending most of our dinner trying to mentally piece the place back together. Sorry, Carm baby, it’s gonna take more than a drop ceiling and some new walls to make me forget where I was. I was eating shrimp parm two feet from where hundreds and hundreds had grinded and groped.
I used to love going to the Lion Heart then walking to the Big House and Bayou, energized on the excitement that was surely to come. I could’ve levitated from Lark all the way Downtown. That’s when Pearl Street was my favorite place to be. In my 20s, I partied in NYC, Virginia Beach, Philadelphia, Montreal, Syracuse, and Bedford Stuyvesant, to name a few. I loved going out in Albany better than all those places combined. I used to be my goal to find NYC’s or Montreal’s or Syracuse’s Big House and Bayou. But all I wanted was my home field.
I remember one night way back thinking how sad it would be when I was too old for going out, when this phase would be forever finished, the door slammed shut. I couldn’t imagine anything better than being at the Big House: The music, the crowd, the whole magilla. Then one day it just ended. That magic row of bars and clubs just went poof, and now Pearl Street is a darkened, rather scary strip of seedy offerings and lacking humanity. Even the Bayou isn’t the Bayou anymore. I died a little bit inside when I saw that. My 21 year old brother will never know a Big House/Bayou night. Tragic.
Carmine's food was top-notch and the vibe was just right. By all accounts we had a fantastic time, even seeing another couple we’ve known for years, and chatting away with them about old Big House stories. This night belonged to the Big House. Even our waiter recounted a few of his Big House Saturday nights. What Carmine’s joint "used" to be was the elephant in the room, for everyone in the room.
When I had finally figured out where everything had once been (the bar, the DJ booth, the bathroom doors), when I could see the room slowly morph back in time (and again, to Carmine’s credit, this was no easy chore), I heard The Outfield sing, “Josie’s on a vacation far away,” and I felt the dance floor fill up, and I saw a group of guys around me at 24 years old, drinks in hand, eyes on all those girls. I saw my friend John, and Justin, and Mike, and Peter Ice Cream, and General Tso’s Chicken, and Gary McGeary, and Rags, and Pinkie, and Lady in Red, and Semi Circles, and we’re laughing and having the time of our lives. And I see my friend Chris Premo. He wears blue jeans and a white button down, and he dances like a damn fool. And I like to think if his ghost was up and walking around anywhere this past Saturday night, he was walking around that restaurant that was once the best bar in the world.
We paid the bill, said goodbye, and stepped out onto Pearl Street. There wasn’t a soul in sight at 10:45PM. But in my mind, if only for a moment, I saw the sidewalks flooded with packs of people, and the cabs pulling up two at a time, and the long lines pouring out of every bar’s front door. I saw it all then it was gone, and the last thing I saw, taped to the window of the old Big House: A real estate sign that sold luxury apartments above Carmine’s. Wait a second! Hold on! Stop the presses! You can live on the third floor of the Big House? The humanity of it all. And with that, we left Pearl Street behind, again.
Read More: http://www.bizjournals.com/albany/blog/2013/01/chef-carmine-sprio-opening-italian.html
Sunday, November 3, 2013
Why are people so impatient and short sighted? I asked myself that this week watching the world unravel over the bumpy rollout of Obama Care. Democrats should resign, be fired, brought up on criminal charges, because the Affordable Care website can’t handle the full-court press on day one. Give it a rest, would you please? There’s an old expression, “Rome, New York wasn’t built in a day.” Nothing great comes without hiccups. It’s the hiccups that inherently make it great. Barack isn’t opening a mini golf on Route 9, people, he’s grass rooting a program that millions and millions and millions are trying to access instantly.
When Affordable Care is completely off the ground--and it will be, trust me, it will be--it’s going to be the greatest amendment to health care in American history. Why? I’ll tell you why. I don’t know all the small print on the program, but I DO know that Barack Obama is the smartest guy in the room. I don’t care what you think of his politics or his skin color, there’s not a single person walking Planet Earth better wired for the Big Job than the guy we got. We hit a homerun, after eight years of Bush putting us WAY-WAY down in the count. In thirty years we’re going to remember Obama the same way we do Kennedy and Clinton. No President has ever been asked to cleanup a George Bush-sized mess. Bush was a disaster. And Barack is getting no help. None. It's sad. It's a shame.
I understand what the Republicans are trying to do. The cartoonish slant on reality that gets Jethro in Kentucky lathered up, but leaves smart people laughing at the desperation of it all. I get it, I do. It’s an all-out smear campaign against anything Barack because they’ve got no future in the White House. None. It’s over for the GOP in this country. George Bush put that ship forever at sea.
America will never elect another Republican. And why should they? Bush lied and dragged us into an illegal war, ruined the housing market, crushed the auto industry, destroyed education, put unemployment through the roof, lost New Orleans and New York City on his watch, then said he had no regrets. We've seen enough. You can try pinning any part of that pie on Barack, sure you can, but smart people know what’s what. Maybe social media and reality TV have given the idiot a collective voice, but informed Americans still run this joint. I just hope they don't try putting Jeb out against Hillary in 2016. Oh, boy.
There’s nothing you could say that would make me think we chose wrong in ’08 or ’12. Nothing. Barack Obama could publically order an orphanage burned to the ground and I’d still feel better about him than Mitt Romney or that illustrious McCain/Palin ticket. Sarah Palin? Are you joking me? Sarah Palin can't even spell Affordable Care Act. 'But, Brian, what about the NSA leak?' What about it? I trust Obama. Period. He went from the bottom to the top of the top on his own, no legacy or lineage. Hell, man, he wasn't even the right color. I'm with that guy. He sounds like Roosevelt when he speaks. If Bush didn’t mangle his own name at the podium we proclaimed his speech a success. The greater the man, the higher the bar. I get it.
The GOP can sabotage this President all they want, go for it, boys. Obama will come out on top. He has the truth and the intelligence on his side. End of story. We have no idea how good we got it right now. In just under five years, Barack’s nearly cleaned up the toxic, gooey, oily mess George Bush left, a mess that should’ve derailed this nation for a generation. Obama is one of the great ones, and one day, down the road, we’ll realize we should’ve appreciated him. He’s going to change the world. Obama Care is going to happen. And when it does, it’s going to be great.
Read More: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/a-timeline-of-the-affordable-care-act/2013/11/02/76b6f9b6-43f9-11e3-a751-f032898f2dbc_story.html
Saturday, October 26, 2013
We’ve lived in our first house four years, and that whole time we’ve dealt with temperamental garage doors. This is when garage doors randomly open, or don't close all the way, or come down halfway then reverse course. For me, an OCD sufferer, knowing the doors play this fickle game, I insist on driving around the block before leaving for work, or to the store, or anywhere, to make sure the doors are down and staying. Sometimes I do it twice. Once I circled three times. OCD’s a bitch. Temperamental garage doors are just as bad.
The remote opener has to be angled just right. There’s swearing involved, sometimes pleading. It’s understood going in that making those overhead doors obey is a crap shoot. I often imagine a scenario where a band of Clifton Park street toughs are chasing me, and I make it safely to my driveway and house, only to be caught and beaten bloody while trying to open that damn garage. What a way to go.
Fed up with this faceoff, my wife pulled the old battery from her opener, replaced it, problem solved. You may ask why we didn’t do that earlier. Some guy at Home Depot told us we’d have to reprogram the entire system if we changed batteries. I guess we took his word and settled for this daily battle. Hers was always the most temperamental, and with that opener finally working right, I was willing to occasionally deal. Anything not to reprogram.
On cue, my remote opener went bad to worse. It got so bad I’d have to open the door from the wall switch, back my car out of the garage, jump out of my car, run back inside, hit the wall switch, sprint out under the rolling door. This circus show at 6:30AM every morning. I’m always the first to get home, so I’d have to park halfway down the driveway, get out of the car, press the opener against the sensor and go to work. If that didn’t take, I’d fetch the ladder--in work clothes--climb the rungs, break in through the bedroom window, crash to the inside floor, go downstairs and open the door on the wall. Why don't I just go in the front door? Well, I insist on locking the screen every morning and taking my chances with the garage. OCD. What a way to live.
There's no "detectable" battery in my opener, so I thought. I came to the conclusion that the opener was--um--solar powered, and a lack of sunlight, because of Autumn, was causing the problem. Idiot? New-home owner? Both? I decided to drive home, holding the opener out the window as I went. Why? So it could get sun, of course. The dreaded reprogram. After spending fifteen minutes trying to get in on Friday afternoon, we decided enough is enough.
We took the opener to Home Depot, where another worker popped the top to show us that the battery was a tiny, circle-shaped thing that I had dismissed as a piece of the sensor. I’d been running without a replacement for four years, opening and closing several times a day. A miracle battery if you think about it.
Now it’s easy. If I so much as breathe on the opener, my garage door launches open. Good luck getting me now, Clifton Park Street toughs. It’s a wonder what a working battery can do. As for all that reprogram talk . . . The only bad part is knowing how easy my side opens now. It’s seriously scary for an OCD sufferer. Now I'm going to circle the block four times, maybe five, to make sure the door didn’t fly open when I hit a bump and the remote bounced on the sun visor. Your classic win-win.
Sunday, October 20, 2013
10. The Appeal by John Grisham
9. The Associate by John Grisham
8. Orange is the New Black by Pier Kerman
7. Rule of the Bone by Russell Banks
6. The Book of Joe by Jonathan Tropper
5. Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem
4. July July by Tim O'Brien
3. The Beach by Alex Garland
2. Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris
1. Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers
Monday, October 14, 2013
Today I’m going to tell you the story of the Turtle. The Turtle is old and wise, even when it’s young. The Turtle never complains or makes excuse. When faced with a challenge the Turtle never passes the buck or says, ‘That’s not MY job,' or ‘Why should I do that?’ The Turtle never worries about its best interest. The Turtle is totally selfless. The Turtle carries the weight of the world.
Is there a Turtle in your life? There is in mine.
The Turtle I know is my wife’s mother. She is wise and selfless and never makes an excuse when the job needs to be done. When my wife was diagnosed last April, the Turtle dropped her hyper-active life on a dime, rushed to her daughter’s side, never left for the next six months. Once a week, she came from three hours away in a rickety, old van, drove days and nights, fueled on black coffee and yogurt, going from Plattsburgh to Albany to NYC, rinse and repeat. Her existence was in shambles. She was never stronger.
That first week in NYC, when winter became spring, the air thick with new life, we waited for “test results,” huddled like packrats in a Manhattan apartment no bigger than a postage stamp. It was a sneak-preview of what Hell would look like, only this was worse. At least Hell has hot water and dry towels. I broke down 2, 3, 10 times. I couldn’t take it anymore. It was a vice grip to the brain, and every day it turned a little tighter. But the Turtle never weakened or wavered.
From a few feet away, I watched this 70-yr-old woman sleep sideways on a narrow couch, eat candy bars for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and wait, wait, wait for some doctor in some hospital to deliver a potentially-terminal diagnosis against her only daughter. The Turtle never said, ‘Why me?' or ‘I need a break.’ In five days as we waited, hours passing like ice ages, this woman never cracked. Never. Not once. The Turtle carries the weight of the world.
There’s not much out there that can genuinely inspire someone. Maybe inspiration is a lost art, I don’t know. But my wife’s mother was a machine these last six months. She is the reason this fight ended the right way. Without her it simply wouldn’ve happened. She saved her daughter’s life, my wife's life. She saved my life. She put our future plans back on track, and she never once--in six dreary and dark months--said, ‘Sorry, I can’t.' I have never seen anything so purely selfless and incredibly inspiring. My outlook on love has been recalibrated because of what I watched her do. That was true love. The truest.
When it ended, she praised everyone else BUT herself, refused ANY credit for the role of weight carrier, 'Nothing to do with me,' and went home, back to her life, leaving us to resume ours. With a horn beep and goodbye wave, she was gone, and we were a normal couple once again. She’s the Turtle.
When my wife called me from her job with the final results last Weds, the really, really good results, I told her not to call her mother till I got home. Why? I wanted to witness the end in person. I wanted to watch her mother react after living in a shitstorm since April. I found her on the hammock in our yard, on her back, arms and legs spread at her side, lifeless, waiting, lifeless. I asked her to come inside, the results were official. Like a firecracker she came off that hammock, and three seconds later was hunkered over the phone, a kid on Christmas morning. She didn't ask why she wasn't called first. Heck, she'd driven all those miles, waited all those hours, dealt with all those doctors, while hubby #1 watched dogs and went to work. She didn't ask why. She didn't care about that. The Turtle has no ego. I got my wife on the phone, who tearfully reported the results to her mother. Victory...for now.
Off the phone, she asked me to fetch her an ice-cold beer. I imagine that first, frosty sip must’ve been the coldest taste after the longest walk in the world's hottest desert. And that's how the story of the Turtle ends.
Today is my wife’s 32nd birthday.
Is there a Turtle in your life?
Saturday, October 5, 2013
What’s victory look like when the opponent's a terrifying force and the fight’s a slugfest that pummels the heart, crushes the soul? That’s the sized fight I’m talking about here. The kind of fight you never want, when everything is at stake, and victory’s not certain, not by a longshot, daddy-o. In fact I can show you thousands who’ve lost this fight. Just follow that winding road through the gut of St. Agnes. There they are, to the right, to the left, they’re out there. That’s what defeat looks like in this. What’s victory look like?
When I was twenty-five I started my first internship at ^%&*$#@* High School. I was sitting in the main office, waiting for my lead-teacher to arrive and bring me in. As I waited, another student-teacher entered the office. A bell above the door buzzed as she came in: good hair, good curves. I looked up, watched her walk to the secretary’s desk. She’d be working with another teacher there. I’d be interning with her. Finished with the front desk, she walked to the row of chairs where I sat, and my life was about to change.
We have so many ideas about what we’d do if given the chance to touch victory. But the truth is when life presents a fight like this, there’s nothing left but a nub when it’s done. And that nub is the only Earthly evidence that you went the distance, punch for punch, round after round after round, and when the final bell buzzed, you were still there, still here. When you fight the fight of your life the only trophy is your life.
We went together for a year then broke up. I thought I’d be better without her, sure of it. I was twenty-six and ready to be single. So off I went. Within a month, my entire life fell apart. I lost my job, crashed my car, ran out of money, was living in slum housing. The single thing, yeah, not so much fun when you’re unemployed and broke. On Halloween night, she came back to me, like a blessing, saved my life. Two weeks later, I had my car back, a better job, even all my money returned. I was nothing without her. I was everything with her.
Many people believe they’re destined to live cinematic lives, no bad could ever come to them, and they’ll be the hero in every situation. We style our hair and nails and get worked up about what people think of us. We all want the cinematic life. But none of that matters. Life is survival, with the hope of having a few great moments along the way. To stay alive is the great gift, the only gift. That’s what coming through a fight shows you. Ignorance is bliss. Victory is pulling the curtain off Oz. Victory is truth.
A few months after my father died, we got married, bought a house; began a life. We exercised and ate right, did everything possible to improve and elongate our time on Earth. I'd never been happy OR lucky. Now I was both. We’d make a family and be successful in our careers, always happy, always together. We were in great shape, physically, great spirits and full of the bully bully. Ours was going to be a great life. Then it came--IT--and it was time to fight.
Victory is never enjoyed by the victor. That part belongs to everyone else. It’s the circle of friends and family that pumps fist and sips champagne when the big fight’s been fought. We all imagine the great things we can do on the heels of a heroic victory. But the real hero wants no part of that kind of fight. The real hero knows nobody "wins" a fight like this. It’s done because there’s no other choice. The real hero understands that winning back your life will forever change your life. The romance and cinema, finished. Victory is truth.
Last night I watched my wife in the bath. She sat in six inches of water, knees folded to her chest; bald head hung low on her now-sinewy neck. Two wash clothes draped her emaciated shoulders like a boxer's robe, and her wedding ring that once fit snug slides halfway down her fourth finger. She’s twenty pounds lighter and half-blinded by oozing stys in both eyes. A nub. But she’s alive and she’s beautiful. Victory...for now.
Read More: http://brianhuba.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-lost-pearl.html
Saturday, September 28, 2013
When I saw the TU headline yesterday--RECKLESS, DISTRACTED, DRUNK--I was in shock. I don’t understand why Dennis Drue all of a sudden decided to roll over and admit guilt on EVERY SINGLE count in regards to the Northway Crash that killed Chris Stewart and Deanna Rivers last December. Honestly, I thought he had a terrific chance of beating many of the felonies against him, if not all.
Let me preface by restating how gut-wrenching this deadly crash was for Clifton Park and the Shen Community, my community. Whenever a young life is lost, any young life, it’s unspeakably sad. There is nothing worse. My heart bleeds for the families involved. With that said, I have never thought they (these families) had a homerun case against Drue. I liked the DA’s chances even less when Drue brought Steve Coffey aboard. Coffey Esquire promised that Drue would walk out of this a free man, NOT guilty on all 58 charges, and man oh man, did I believe him. The burden of proof was just too much. How could anyone “definitively” say exactly what happened that December night on the Northway? Even if Drue had been drinking, doing drugs, driving like Dale Earnhardt, all media fabrications in my opinion, there was no way he’d be found guilty across the board, because there’s no “solid” proof he caused the crash.
In my opinion, the media has been highly unfair and biased against Dennis Drue. The victims were built up like high school All-Americans, amazing in every way, and maybe they were, while Drue was depicted as a dark, shadowy criminal, with an ugly driving record and substance problems. It was completely over the top. Then the TU reports on the callous bullying of Bailey Wind, the passenger who transformed her tragedy into Social-Media Gold. Read more: http://brianhuba.blogspot.com/2013/02/this-isnt-news.html.
Wind's latest nugget: "5 to 15 years doesn't bring my god damn boyfriend and best friend back #restinpeace." Gold, Bailey, Gold!
Coffey said potentially "overwhelming" evidence influenced Drue's decision, as did "the fact that we had to try this up in Saratoga County." Look at the second part of the quote and you’ll have your answer. That’s why Coffey took this deal, I guarantee it. A Saratoga County Jury would’ve pig-roasted this kid. Half of them would’ve shipped him downstate while wearing a "Shen Must Mend" t-shirt. There was no way he was getting a fair trial here. But I still think he should’ve fought. Who hires Steve Coffey then just backs down without a trial? Why? Because the damning evidence might come out? Who cares? Channel 6 News has already turned Drue into Scott OJ Simpson Peterson. Watch this and tell me I'm wrong:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMlmf_bcNiU. You call that a balanced reporting of facts? So I say to hell with the ugly dets at this juncture. For Drue’s part, he spoke to no one, never broke character as the media cut a machete through his life. For that reason alone, I thought he’d potentially walk.
"When you combine the alcohol, the (marijuana), the texting, the speeding and all of those things combined," Saratoga County DA Murphy said, "it is no doubt that something like this was going to happen. As a result we had four completely innocent kids suffer unspeakable consequences." This quote pretty much sums up why the Capital Region has become so convinced that Drue's a stone-cold killer. The drinking? Turns out the DA had witnesses who say that Drue was drinking "heavily" at KOTO, and they were so concerned they asked if he had a DD, even though they were strangers. We’re sure that actually happened? This isn’t just a few jerks who all of a sudden remember everything from that night, now looking for five minutes of fame? Where were they last Dec.? Let’s look at the marijuana part. On the surface, that quote suggests that Drue was doing drugs on the night in question, it’s meant to make you think that. Nope, he wasn’t. The texting? Suddenly the Saratoga’s DA has produced another cloak-and-dagger witness that claims he/she was texting with Drue before the accident. Really?
Truth is they HAD to get this kid behind bars. He’d shattered the Shen Community and the pressure to put him away was overwhelming. The media was best friend in this pursuit. I think Drue was “kind of” railroaded here. He should’ve had his shot in court.
Murphy said he believed the denial of the request for a venue change was among the factors that led Drue to plead guilty. Murphy said he was prepared to go to trial and was somewhat shocked to learn of Drue's decision. On Friday, in a cracking voice, Drue repeated the word "guilty" to the series of charges. Then he and his high-priced lawyer left the courtroom, with Drue looking at 5-15 years in prison, life over. The Prosecutors are gonna cut his heart out. He's getting the full 15. And I don’t mean RCJ or ACJ. I’m talking Dannemora, Sing-Sing. Who just rolls over and takes that deal at 22 years old?
You don’t draft Peyton Manning to establish the running game and you don’t hire Steve Coffey to cave on the eve of your life-saving trail. Am I saying something else is going on here? Am I saying the kid was somehow, someway strong armed into quitting before the big game? I don’t know what I’m saying. This kid gave his life away without throwing a single punch.
Read More: http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Drue-admits-all-58-counts-in-crash-deaths-of-2-4849075.php#page-2
Sunday, September 22, 2013
In 2000 my uncle Dave died of cancer. He was 33. From that I had a real fear of turning 33 myself.
Dateline September 2012: A shot of severe chest pain at 3 am, a few nights before my 33rd. I thought it was a coronary. I had always known this, hadn’t I? This was where the wagon would derail. But it was only my first experience with heartburn. Read more: http://brianhuba.blogspot.com/2012/09/stop-and-smell-roses.html. I survived that night, turned 33, and the first six months of said year were great. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I was silly for living in fear of a number, an age, a time. We were ready to start a family, a life. It was my time to shine. Then it all went the other way.
Once I read about a religion/belief system that said we chart out our lives before we live them, and as we exist, we know where the road is going. That’s what deja vous is, this religion argues. We haven’t been there before; we’re going there in the future. Somewhere deep in our being, we know our destiny, because we planned it out, pre-birth. I don’t know if that’s true. But something always told me 33 would be a bad one. I had no idea how right I was.
The feared slide of 33 started Easter Sunday. My wife found something (seemingly benign) on her body, and two weeks later, received the most-dreaded diagnosis a woman could hear. Read more: http://brianhuba.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-lost-pearl.html. The world went instantly dark. Plans to make a family: Done. It was a stunning turn of events. I thought we'd be special, world killers, now it was trying to stay alive, intact. We forged ahead, fought, took hold of the horrible situation, just in time to find out our dog, Sophie, had been diagnosed with cancer: Mast-cell tumor. She had to undergo surgery and was quickly declared cancer free: Read more: http://brianhuba.blogspot.com/2013/06/sophies-letter-to-shaker-vet.html. That's when we started praying nightly.
People talk all the time about the power of positive thought. Maybe it’s the same way with negative thought. Maybe because I had always feared 33 with such vigor, I created the horror that came halfway through. Maybe all this disaster was my fault.
Then the real nightmare started. I was sitting outside the Rensselaer Train Station, there to pick up my wife, coming back from treatment, when my sister called to tell me that my oldest friend, Chris Premo, had been in an accident, and it’s “bad.” The next five days: Hell itself, ending with Chris’s shocking death on July 29th. Read more: http://brianhuba.blogspot.com/2013/08/mines-ordinary-life.html. I was 33. The ship was sinking. No end in sight. What could happen next?
Funny you should ask. My aunt’s fiancé was diagnosed with cancer, and I was diagnosed with bradycardia. It’s been nonstop, never ending this year. And I didn’t even mention the death of James Gandolfini. Read more: http://brianhuba.blogspot.com/2013/07/my-final-word-on-gandolfini.html. As I write this, the Giants are working on 0&3. When I was 33. It was NOT a very good year.
Everything happens for a reason, I believe that. Maybe I can’t read the writing on the wall right now, but someday I’ll understand why this avalanche of sadness rolled over my life at this time. I will recognize how it was a gateway to good. That’s my mentality as I move towards 34.
Yesterday I was mowing the lawn. I went past the house, turned around, and started back towards the front door once more. I love mowing the lawn, seeing the tall grass cut down, the property made clean, one blade at a time. When you start the lawn, the yard’s an unkempt mess, out of control perhaps, and when you finish, it looks great. As I pushed the machine towards the front door, I saw my wife sitting on the stair, watching me. In the window behind her, all three dogs sat, looking out, tails wagging. She smiled, waved. I smiled, waved back. And that’s when I knew everything would be all right. We’re alive, and as long as we're alive, there's hope. Read more: http://brianhuba.blogspot.com/2013/08/life-is-circle-wheel.html
Saturday, September 14, 2013
Saturday Night Live leaked its hosts for the first three episodes. Tina Fey will start things off, followed by Twerking Girl Miley Cyrus, then Bruce Willis. Like Meatloaf once said, “two out of three ain’t bad.”
I’m a smidge disappointed that SNL would reward Cyrus’s late-summer slutathon, using such a flimsy platform to launch the retooled cast. Across the board, I don’t understand why Cyrus is getting epic attention for making a fool of herself on an irrelevant awards show. She can’t sing, can’t dance, can’t perform, so she decides to stick her tongue out and dry hump a stage for six minutes, and it projectiles her career? Compared to Cyus, Justin Bieber's Stevie Wonder. But she “twerked” in a flesh-colored bikini so her songs shoot to the top of I-tunes, her CD sales rocket, her face plasters the cover of every magazine? Then SNL comes calling? Is cheap shock value really this powerful? What’s next? One Direction makes soft porn, wins a lifetime achievement?
Lorne Michaels has put his rookie cast on a suicide mission. Do you understand how hard these newbies are going to have to work to cover over Cyrus’s non-existent chops? Remember when Lindsay Lohan took a stab at hosting last season (maybe the season before)? She was making her big “comeback” and Michaels installed her on the heels of all that hallow attention. There are legendary stories of the cast making commercial-break rewrites to sketches. Why? Lohan couldn't get three lines out. Lohan was a train wreck. And that was a well-oiled team (Hader, Sudeikis, Myers, etc). Lohan's Meryl Streep compared to Cyrus.
How can someone as seasoned as Lorne Michaels buy this five-minute bounce, again? Is it really about ratings in SNL’s 700th season? OK, the whole country will watch, sure we will, and we’ll go to bed thinking SNL's in the crapper. This is too big a platform to showcase Hannah Montana. "But, Brian, they're gonna make fun of Miley all night. It'll be hilarious." I don't care about Miley Cyrus. I don't want to spend a whole show on her. I want primetime presence.
And the worst part is I was looking forward to the new SNL cast. The least Michaels could do is fill the first month with established talent at host, give these comedic kids a real chance to win America. I just didn’t realize that twerking and tongue lapping qualified someone for that job.
Read More: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/miley-cyrus-to-host-and-perform-on-saturday-night-live-20130909
Sunday, September 8, 2013
Fall is an exciting time for entertainment. The NFL Season is underway, the new TV schedule is rolled out, people are back at work across the board. I’m looking forward to BOARDWALK EMPIRE, SONS OF ANARCHY, and HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER’s final run. I'm on board for Michael J. Fox’s return to sitcom TV. His last stint, SPIN CITY, earned him two Emmys in two years, cut short by his diagnosis. Now the Parkinson’s will be put on center stage. The new show seems to be a reality/sitcom hybrid. I'm in.
When I was a little kid I used to pretend I was Michael J. Fox, Marty McFly from BACK TO THE FUTURE to be exact. I'd deliver, to nobody in particular, dialogue lines from the movie out of the blue, which came off kind of weird on the playground. I rocked a puffy vest and skate board even though I couldn't skate to save my life, over-practiced that exasperated expression Fox perpetually wore in the movie. I was all-the-way Fox until the BATMAN movie came out, then I was the Joker. Don’t ask. Years later, I saw Michael J. Fox in real life. He was crossing a street on Martha’s Vineyard. He was super short. As long as you’re ready for a lot of eighties-sitcom moves i.e. sliding across counter tops for no reason, the new MJF might be worth checking out.
In music, Eminem is putting a new CD out. He calls it a “revisit” of the MARSHALL MATHERS LP. I used to love Eminem. I’m not looking forward to this incarnation. I'm further disinterested after watching the interview Em gave in the broadcasters booth during the Notre Dame/Michigan game last night. At 41 years old, I’m not sure he can pull off this Slim Shady routine anew, but, my God, he’s evidently gonna try. Watch a brief clip here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8R5-VS9ams4.
It’s the same bleached hair, baggy jeans, oversized jacket. The interview was squirmy and uncomfortable to watch. I was reminded of Em’s famous diss of Mark Wahlberg on MTV’s TRL in '99. Watch here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ON_H3XKtME8. Maybe Eminem was cool when I was 23. Not cool at 33. Everything he did after 2002 sucks. When he said, “Oops my CD just skipped, and everyone heard you let one rip,” I was done with Slim Shady. I recently deleted his station off my Pandora. Even the stuff I once loved (The Real Slim Shady, The Way I Am, Stan), can't stand any of it now.
It seems like he’s going to put out a whole new batch of songs that insult other celebrities, slanders his low-class family. Been there. Done that. All I've heard about his only-released single is that he “disses” Khloe Kardashian and Lamar Odom. Ugh. Maybe all that “dissing” was cool in the late 90s-early 2000s. I don’t think it works again. People aren’t into that anymore, are they?
I would’ve preferred to see Eminem change with the times. See Justin Timberlake for that. At the end of the day, you have to treat people with respect or you get forgotten real fast, regardless of talent. Shock value has a short shelf life. Wahlberg called Eminem a punk ten years ago. Now Wahlberg is one of our finest actors, and Marshall Mathers is a 41 year old with bleached hair and baggy jeans.
Read More: http://ftw.usatoday.com/2013/09/eminems-awkward-live-tv-moment-during-michigan-notre-dame/
Sunday, September 1, 2013
For the first time, I don’t know if I’m "really" ready for some football. I’ve spent the month trying to figure my lack of enthusiasm here, and think I might’ve come up with it. Seems to me the new wave of NFL marketing/PR is targeting a guy I like to call "Fantasy Guy." Now we all know there are about 800 commercial breaks in any given game, which makes watching them on TV tough, and watching them live really tough. And it seems like the theme of said commercial blitz is aimed at the guy in his late 20s-late 30s, white-collar, kind of techy, does a lot with his I-Phone, and devotes his foremost allegiance to his Fantasy Football Roster. That's not who I am as an NFL fan. That's not me.
You see this guy in the beer commercials, chips commercials, soda commercials. He’s watching the game with a group of good-looking co-eds, everybody has an I-Phone in hand. Let me tell you about this guy in the real world: He started watching pro ball a few years ago, he doesn’t really "know" the game or really "love" it, but he’s routinely telling you how well his Fantasy-Drafted players are performing. You invite him over to watch Dallas vs. NY Giants, a heated, historic NFC East Rivalry, and he’s rooting for, um, both teams, because he has Cowboys and Giants on his Fantasy Roster. I'm sorry, that's not Cowboys/Giants. Fantasy Football’s ruining the real thing.
The guys I talk NY Giants with know the team inside and out, have been watching Big Blue since grade school, can tell you the starting offensive line for the 1990 Super Bowl Team, Phil Simms’s historic performance in the ’86 game. We follow every aspect of OUR team, suffer weeklong depressions when they lose, left only to analyze the bad pass Eli made or why Coughlin punted on that key 4th & 1. We debate team history and most playoff wins, and most fourth-qtr. comeback wins, etc. We love this team, love this coach, love it all, and, well, hate it all. It's an emotional "all-in." As a fan, I like the admittedly-silly idea of "your" team vs. "ours," your city vs. ours, your coach/QB vs. ours. It’s beer and bad food, and we "gotta" have this win. That’s how football’s been my whole life. “Eagles suck!” no “Giants suck!” then bragging rights on Monday morning, sweet-sweet bragging rights. It's threatening to cancel Christmas if the Giants lost to the Jets on X-Mas Eve then tearing up when Coughlin limped to center field to shake Rex Ryan's hand after knocking his big-mouth bunch from the playoffs. It's watching the Giants win the NFC East one week later from the nosebleed seats in the snow and freezing rain, seeing God himself when Coughlin's face filled that jumbo-tron, addressing the media at the podium. I saw God that night. His name was Thomas Richard Coughlin. You can have your Fantasy Team.
I can't count the number of times I got beat up on the bus by 49ers fans when the Giants won. Then Montana retired and Aikman emerged, and those 49ers fans became Cowboys fans, and I got beat up anew. As long as the Giants won, I took my thumping with a smile. Or the night I came home from school and my father was already stretching dough for the perfect pizza he'd make that Monday night as we watched Giants/49ers, a game the G-Men would lose 7-3 then avenge in the NFC Championship. That's football. Now it’s office Fantasy Drafts, downloading game clips to your Droid, texting today’s MVP to *4678. Nah.
Maybe I’m not progressing with the times or technology, but to me, the whole Fantasy thing is sort of pointless, and it’s redirecting the NFL passion in a bad way. It’s less and less about lifers in front of that TV on Sundays. It’s less and less about Cowboy Week, Redskin Week, fan bases called the Black Hole, the Dog Pound. What can I say? I’m just not into the Fantasy craze. I still prefer the real thing.
On that note, here are some of my predictions for the "real" NFL Season.
AFC Championship: Houston over Denver
NFC Championship: Atlanta over Dallas
Super Bowl: Atlanta over Houston
SB MVP: Matt Ryan/Atlanta
Reg. Season MVP: Peyton Manning/Denver
Top-Ranked QB: Andrew Luck/Indy
Top-Ranked Rusher: Adrian Peterson/Minn
Top-Ranked Receiver: Julio Jones/Hot-lanta
Big Step Back: RG3/Wash, Russell Wilson/SEA, Colin Kaepernick/SF
Surprise Playoff Teams: Kansas City, St. Louis, Miami, Chicago
Surprise Teams MISSING the Playoffs: San Fran, Seattle, New England, Baltimore
Best Team Record: Denver 13-3
Worst Team Record: Philly 3-13
Coach of the Year: Marc Trestman/Chicago
Coaching Last Stands: Rex Ryan/NYJ, Dennis Allen/OAK, Jim Schwartz/Detroit
Breakout Player: David Wilson/NYG
Overhyped Player: RG3/Wash OF COURSE
Monday, August 26, 2013
Why does MTV insist on these Video Music Awards every August? This isn’t another MTV sucks rant (it does), or why doesn’t MTV play videos thing (I know why they don’t). I’m asking why would a network, that has clearly divorced itself from the music game, exercise this charade of handing over Moon Men for videos when there aren’t videos? MTV does nothing with music the other 364 days. Nothing.
Foolishly, I got excited about the VMAs this year. I got filled up with memories of the Eminem performance at Radio City, Madonna gyrating around the stage in a wedding dress, Guns N Roses rocking “Welcome to the Jungle." U2 was in the audience back then. Bon Jovi strolled the Red Carpet. Kurt Loder covered limo arrivals. It was a music empire’s flagship show. This year it was kids doing bicycle tricks outside the Barclays. Nonstop product placement, Twitter questions from "lucky" 9 yr. olds, via-video "OMGs!!!" for One Direction, then ten minutes later, Cyrus simulating sex in a flesh-colored bikini. It was desperate. It was unwatchable.
Back in the Eminem/Madonna/Axl Rose days, MTV was in bed with music’s biggest stars. 1515 Broadway had major muscle with record execs and managers. You can’t imagine the amount of flesh pressing that happens to get Springsteen on the VMA stage. The tradeoff was simple: You perform and give out awards at our show and we’ll air your videos and promote your products on our channel. We’ll give you a full week on TRL. John Norris will report on your tour dates and CD sales in the News Break. But now . . . As I watched some VJ I never saw before interviewing a 12 year old ten minutes before the Big Show, on an empty Red Carpet, framed by eighth-graders drinking Diet Pepsi, I asked myself: What’s the tradeoff in 2013?
As for the show itself? Soulless. When Selena Gomez is the biggest star in the building, kiss it goodbye. The production was riddled with technical difficulties. Every performance was sophomoric. Kayne West is mentally ill. Stop saying he’s a genius. He’s gibberish. Lady Gaga? Enough already. And how could MTV saddle Robin Thicke, who pumped out the summer’s best song, with Miley Cyrus? The awards are ridiculous. If they'd put the camera on Taylor Swift once more . . . Significant stars from music, movie, and small screen wouldn’t be caught dead at the VMAs. Beyoncé wasn't even there. Beyonce's at everything! She headlined the opening of Gil's Garage in Clifton Park last month.
MTV has nothing to do with music anymore. TNT or USA has as much of a right to put on a music-awards show now. MTV and the VMAs is like LeBron James joining the billiards tour. One has nothing to do with the other. MTV is a young-adult channel with programming (scripted and um unscripted) geared towards people in their late teens and early twenties. That's it. Nickelodeon on steroids. They don’t play music. They don’t report on music. They don’t promote music. Best Video with a Social Message? There are no videos. MTV's not in the music game. That was evident last night in Brooklyn. Why does MTV care? What is their VMA angle at this point? Next-day buzz? I don't see why they roll out the Red Carpet.
A word on Justin Timberlake: His 20-minute performance was epic. Fresh off the LEGENDS Tour, the moves were razor sharp, the stage presence beyond belief. He was the one professional singer/performer in the building. He had 20,000 people on their feet through samples of ten songs. The NSYNC part was totally lame, all reunions are, but wow, JT is the Undisputed Pop King of this generation. I only pray that his powerhouse play was a farewell lap. JT's too big for MTV. And the second he finished his bit, I turned the VMAs right off.
That wasn’t an awards show. That was a funeral.
Watch JT: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mi6hlZD0HLE
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
I’m a total sucker for a star-studded VMA’s show, and this Sunday looks like it could be a good one. The setting is Brooklyn’s new arena, the Barclays, and the line-up is intriguing. “Hey, Brian, is Brooklyn the new Manhattan?” Absolutely not, but Sunday’s MTV show is stacked, and BK is where the red carpet rolls, so that’s something. Kayne West. Katy Perry. Bruno Mars. Lady Gaga. Robin Thicke. It’s a fun cast of characters, and should make for an eventful few hours, if nothing more.
The real reason I’m signed on for the 25th begins and ends with Justin Timberlake. Coming off his critically-worshipped Legends of Summer Tour, JT rolls into Barclays where he’ll perform (possibly with NSYNC, although you could throw four random guys in cargo pants behind Justin, and tell me that's NSYNC, and I wouldn't know the difference) and collect the Michael Jackson Lifetime Achievement Award. (Lifetime? Huh? Don’t take it too seriously. It’s an award MTV made up.) In addition to that, Timberlake is set to pass Madonna for all-time Moon Man wins. They both have 14 currently, and JT is nominated for 6 more Sunday. MTV doesn’t even play videos, so I’m not sure what winning Video of the Year really means. But Justin will wake up Monday morning as the most celebrated artist in the Music Television era.
I have zero problem admitting Justin Timberlake is incredible. I think he’s the best performer in the world. I’ve thought so since he was 18 years old, and wearing bedazzled bandanas. Madonna called him the best in 2006. When everybody else dismissed JT as another Boy Bander, I was saying he was Elvis Presley incarnate. He’s never made a bad career move. He’s handled the fame, and media, and trappings like a champ. He’s smart as a pistol and a balls-to-the-wall worker. Everything (besides a movie script, of course) he touches turns up gold. Gold, baby, gold. Can’t sell CDs in 2013? Really? Check the numbers on 20/20. And guess what? 20/20 kinda sucks. But it’s Justin, so who cares? Can I get a what-what?
Would I see Timberlake in concert? Absolutely not. But if he’s performing at an award-show setting, it’s must-see TV for me. Has been since 2000. Did you see him at the Grammy’s? Amazing. He’s the coolest SOB in the biz. Has been since 2000. I’m not suggesting “Mirrors” is a masterpiece, oh Hell no. “Mirrors” is the stupidest song I’ve ever heard. But it’s suddenly “Billy Jean” when JT performs it. This cat made “Mirrors” number one in like 13 countries. Enough said.
MTV is a joke now. It used to be the most important channel on TV. Now it’s nonstop “Girl Code” and that unwatchable puke-fest “Ridiculousness” or whatever it’s called. MTV sold its soul to “the Jersey Shore.” It was all over after that. Now the former home of "Singled Out" and Adam Curry has been reduced to throwing a bunch of fake awards at top stars to get them on stage. And when I heard that Justin Timberlake would be the center of that crap storm, I cleared my August 25th evening on the spot.
Read More: http://www.mtv.com/ontv/vma/
Read More: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/style-blog/wp/2013/08/20/justin-timberlake-nsync-set-to-join-performers-at-mtvs-vmas/
Sunday, August 18, 2013
The summer of 2013 has been the hardest. Every time the phone rings: another log on the fire. I’m running out of refuge and real estate with work resuming in September. So we retreated Up North, to my wife’s parents’ house, one final getaway. It’s my favorite place. And my favorite part of “Up North” is a network of trails on the backside of a cemetery across the road. Said trails cut four miles through the wheelhouse of the Adirondacks. Every day when visiting, I walk my three dogs, sans leashes, as the nature sounds emanate on all sides. It’s a homerun workout for the body and mind. The world is all right on that trail.
Today my wife decided to walk with us. She’s ready to resume her normal load. Before leaving, she asked if I had my cell phone, she didn’t have hers. I said mine was dead, so we hit the cemetery then woods--a family of five--with no tool to communicate with the outside world. I’m sick of phones anyway. The sun shined bright and the bugs were few. It was a great day to walk. It was Sunday. We’d have the show to ourselves. So off we went, watching the dogs run, and sniff, and piss wherever felt right. Isn't life grand?
Two miles in, where the trail splits, we took the elevated path with no borders. The dogs bounded a few yards ahead, weaving free on the narrow pass, paws blackened on the few spots of still-wet mud. Suddenly the sounds of approaching ATV’s. This isn’t uncommon. The riders know to slow down then brake for dog walkers. It's understood. But these ATV’s were coming fast, fast, too fast! Then the two vehicles (one red, one white) showed themselves on the horizon, rock n’ rolling around a sharp turn thirty feet in front. I raised both hands so they’d see us between the trees, where the sun shot blinding bars. But these riders weren’t slowing down. Right behind me, my wife stood, and behind her, all three dogs (30-35 lbs each) like bowling pins on the path, frozen in fear. These ATV’s were coming. Nowhere to run. No escape. No time. My wife screamed. I side stepped to rip the first rider off his machine, but missed. He was free of me. I was helpless. He wasn’t stopping. My whole life was on that trail. Nowhere to run, straight drop offs on both sides. We entered those woods as an intact family of five. No way were we leaving the same way. He wasn’t stopping. Mass carnage cometh.
Then time hiccupped. That’s the only way I can describe it. It stopped, started again, and when it did, my wife and dogs were miraculously untouched by the death machine, now fifty feet down the trail, easing to a stop. Without thinking, I grabbed a five-pound rock and raced towards the hillbilly who almost sliced and diced my world. I screamed. I yelled. He sat slack-jawed. When my rant went dry, he told me he had no brakes, couldn’t stop. I wielded that readied rock. I was on fire. He finally vvvrrrmmed away with his friend, amazingly no harm done. When I got my three dogs together, hugged my wife, I was left to wonder how we survived that surefire collision. How did no one get hurt? How did he miss me, my wife, ALL THREE DOGS? How?
I was feeling total shock, and relief. How? That's when a third ATV emerged out of the darkness, moving slowly, and I knew not to be afraid, even though my heart was still in my throat. When the sun shone through, showed the rider's clean-shaven face, I knew why I wasn’t afraid. Understood. I knew that face from another life. Not "his" face, of course. But "that" face. This stranger rode towards me on his yellow 4-wheeler, cut the engine, and there he was. I guessed his height (as he stayed seated) at about 5’4”. His hair: shaved on the sides, number two on top. The jeans were frayed at the ankles. But it was the eyes that told me this stranger was no stranger. It was my old friend incarnate, and he said, in north-country drawl, that he’d heard screaming, came to investigate. I explained what "almost" happened. My new/old friend said he “patrolled these trails." When I told him who I was married to, he recognized the last name (ah, small towns), said he’d "absolutely" get to the bottom of the brake-less driver. The last thing he told me: “Don’t worry,” then he rode away. The sun swallowed him up, and he was gone. Twenty minutes later, my family walked out of those woods. Intact. Together. Safe.
As I write this, my wife is on the couch by the sliding doors that look out on the backyard and cemetery across the way, where the woods border on the backside. My three dogs are on the rug near the couch, sleeping, dreaming. Lola’s on the left. Pepper’s around the top, protecting her sisters like she always does. Sophie’s in the middle, and she snores. My family.
We were spared on that trail.
Thank you, old friend, thank you.
Sunday, August 11, 2013
A few weeks ago, at a wedding, I got talking with a man from "the country" who said he was thinking about moving. The kids were grown and out of the house, retirement was around the corner, and he was maybe ready to leave the rural life in the rear view. Of course I pitched living in Latham or Clifton Park. He dismissed that idea as “characterless” for someone like him. To which I said, “Who cares about character?”
Who wouldn’t want to live in Clifton Park? You can have any type of house you want, any type of life you want. There’s land if that’s your thing, rural guy. There's even ponds and a lake. There are trails in the woods to run on. But why run on wooded trails when you can hit the million-dollar track at Shen? Anything and everything you could want is at the fingertips. The library, mall, grocery store, Chinese place, Wal-Mart, Target, etc, all less than three minutes from your doorstep. Something goes wrong with the house, BAM, right to Home Depot and back in a flash. “But, Brian, those are chain places. They have no character.” Character? Who cares? My sink is broke. I need it fixed. And I defy you to find something (anything) that Home Depot doesn’t have in stock and doesn’t fully warranty. And if they don’t, go across the street to Lowes. While you’re dealing with Bubba’s Hardware, because Bubba has character, and a two-week wait for that sink piping, I’m home, watching the Giants and using my new sink. You can have your character. Did I mention that CP taxes are the lowest in the area and the schools are the best?
My wife’s parents live in upstate New York, very rural, lots of farms, windmills for wind energy. I love getting away to their place. But after three, four days, I need real life again. Here’s the thing: Up there, going to the movies is an all-day odyssey, an epic. Down here, in good old CP, I leave the house at 8.58 for a 9PM show. Sign me up for the latter. But it’s more than that. My wife’s father is 70 yrs old. If he has a heart attack at home, where 75% of such attacks occur, he’s a goner. No way an ambulance gets to him under an hour. And the weather in rural areas. Next time there’s a snow storm, turn on YNN. I guarantee all the suburban and city schools are running, and the rural schools are shuttered for the next three days. I really hope rural guy doesn’t have “the big one” when that’s going on. But hey, character, baby, character.
Is Suburbia cookie-cutter? Of course it is. But it's more than that. The suburbs have the best and healthiest food choices. Hannaford has a whole section for organic. Across the street, there's a Green Grocer. You don't have to fill the gas tank twice to hit Barnes & Noble for that new Dan Brown book. Have you seen the CP library? It looks like a state building. I know there's more snowmobile riding options and better landscapes in the country, I get that, but come on, it's the everyday things like going to the store or renting a Red Box that matters most in modern life, right?
What’s my point? Simple. It’s 2013. Virtually any luxury you want is for the taking, with minimal work. So why would someone choose to live where all the easiness of today is not accessible? It's like camping in the rain when the Marriot has vacant rooms. Why? I just don’t understand living in the country vs. Latham because the country has more character. What does that mean? You might say I don’t "get" small-town living, and maybe you’re right, but I did grow up in Averill Park when guys were driving pickups with confederate flags in the window, so I have some idea. For the kids and teenagers, small town is awesome. For instance, if you play QB for a C or D school you're also the town mayor, your money's no good here, kid. But rural kid often can't cut it on the big stage. Why? You hear your whole life you're a star then hit the real world, and guess what? You're not a star. Suburban kid, who has to deal with a graduating class of 400, knows exactly where he ranks when college and the work force come calling. Nobody blows smoke at Shen. You are or you aren't.
As I type this sentence, my wife is walking in with a cup of Starbuck’s coffee. I know, I know, how suburban and characterless does it get? But Starbuck’s makes a better cup of Joe than anybody going, I’m sure, so again, who cares about character? Just give me the best product. I’ll tell you I came up with this idea while sitting in Olive Garden the other night, that's right, Olive Garden. It’s a total chain, but the food was descent, and the price was right. And I remembered asking my friend about the restaurant selection where he lived. He said, “not much, nothing really." Ouch. Then I asked him if he’d ever been to D’Raymond’s. He’d never heard of it. Character.
Friday, August 2, 2013
Two Wednesdays ago, my sister called to tell me that my childhood friend, Chris Premo, had been involved in a bad accident on a paving site. He was at Albany Med, might not make it. Life changes on a dime. So began a week of late nights at the ICU, donuts for dinner, doctors putting friends and family on a rollercoaster of hope then failure then hope again. But there would be no miracle, no divine intervention. It ended on Monday July 29th. After a tearful apology by Chris’s surgeon--for some injuries cannot be fixed by human hands alone--those who knew Chris best were invited to gather by his bedside. He left life at 34 years, six weeks, and several hours old. Chris Premo was gone. Even as I type it now, a week later, I can’t believe it.
One of Chris's favorite songs: "I believe in a thing called love" by The Darkness. He'd dance like a damn fool to that one.
Life never happens how we think it will. Someone must go first, that’s simple physics, and for us, it was Chris. Growing up, my next-door neighbor and close friend was a giant, even though he was the shortest of the bunch. He made short so cool I wanted to be short. He made being Chris Premo cool. We all wanted to be Chris. Everything about CP was epic, the one whose light shined a little brighter than the rest. He was Ponyboy Curtis, Jim Morrison, James Dean. When he was sixteen, he drove a Geo Metro wagon with teardrop tint on the windows. It was the coolest car ever. Why? Because it was Chris’s car. And as long as I was with Chris, in that car while he worked the wheel, I too would be cool.
Chris owned every type of vehicle, land & water. He could drive anything.
As I returned home this week for the burial, I quickly learned about the other Chris Premo, the man that my childhood friend had become. While the bulk of my "Chris memories" involve drinking parties and crazy vacations in our early twenties, I had since drifted down the road, while Chris married his high-school sweetheart, started a beautiful family that boasted two gorgeous children, in a brand-new house he literally built with his bare hands. The house stands right behind his father’s house, and I was ashamed to face the fact that I had never been inside it before this week. Chris was happy living where we were raised, I wasn’t, and because of that our connection lessened. That’s life. But I was given a crash course on the 5’4” giant who grew to be a great father and hardworking perfectionist. The other Chris. The new Chris. The Chris I’ll never know in the flesh.
Chris was a great wrestler in high school.
I’m 33. There’s nothing unordinary about a man my age having to bury one of his childhood buds. That’s how it goes. But I’m not sure most such experiences are like mine. A few days after Chris’s death, his shocking downfall made the newspapers, was featured in YNN’s Top Stories. A fund was started for his wife and two children. It has grossed thirty-five thousand in two days, and counting. I knew people were passionate about Chris, crushed by this cruel turn of events. But I had no clue how huge it was until his wake at the Bryce Home on Pawling Ave this past Thursday. I had the honor to sit fifteen feet from my old pal’s open casket, as five thousand people paid final respects. But they weren't looking at Chris. Chris was gone. Chris was amazing blue eyes, a boundless smile, dimples to die for. Chris was beautiful. But all night the line bulged around two street corners, and carried a three-hour wait in the pouring rain. Nobody cared. Nobody was leaving. This was Chris Premo. His wife stood in three-inch heels for eight hours, greeted every last mourner without break or complaint. That’s love.
Chris always wore t-shirts and blue jeans with the bottoms cut off.
Friday morning: My black suit and a funeral. Even as I followed the procession up the winding roads of St. Agnes, I couldn’t believe we were a matter of minutes from lowering Chris Premo into the ground. In 2000, when my uncle Dave died, I was with Chris, and he made me pray for Dave’s soul. I loved Chris for that. When my father died, Chris was by my side, attending his funeral which meant going late to his first day on a new job. We all told Chris to miss the funeral, it was all right, but he'd hear none of it. Some things are bigger than first days and new jobs. When my wife was diagnosed in April, Chris phoned immediately. When I didn’t answer, he called back. Nobody else I grew up with called. Just Chris. And now he’s gone, and all I can do is write some dumb words. I’m no Chris Premo. He kicked my ass in life. I have no doubt in death too.
Chris was a great pool player.
Chris was the rock star. But I get to live. I won’t be the first. That’s Chris. And as I rested my rose atop his chrome-colored coffin, I knew it was time for me to return to my life. There’s no place for me on my childhood street now, for my visa was a temporary one. I chose to leave, to start a new life, and now it’s time to resume that plan. I gave a final round of hugs to the players that populated my first eighteen years, then walked off with my wife, the woman who will centerpiece my remaining ones. Nothing matters now but her. Chris Premo taught me that. Before going, I turned back once more, and there sat Chris’s coffin, covered in flowers, and I knew the party was over. And driving home to Clifton Park with my wife, back to our dogs and modest house, a song came on the radio that went, “Take that look of worry, mine’s an ordinary life.” The song spoke to me. I'm not the rock star. Chris was the rock star.
Chris thought Meet the Fockers was a masterpiece.
Chris's best friend Mike texted me a video that showed a series of fires burning around the lake in my old neighborhood, the lake Chris called home all his life. The fires burned in tribute. Mike said he was with 200 people at his fire site, saying goodbye to Chris. I told him to look around at that huge group of lake-dwellers, for somewhere there was the next Chris, and the next Mike, and the next me. They were there. Where else would they be on this night? I told Mike he wasn't saying goodbye to Chris. He was passing the torch. The Chris Premo Era is over. And tomorrow's the new.
I once saw Chris Premo wrestle a 230lb ball of muscle to the ground.
I once saw Chris Premo jump into a gorge from a rock 40ft above the water.
I once saw Chris Premo hold a wheelie on his motorcycle for half a mile while riding with Northway traffic.
Everybody has a hundred Chris Premo stories. No story can fully capture him. No story can do him justice. Trying to describe Chris is like trying to describe music. You either experienced him or you didn't.
Chris Premo was invincible
Chris Premo was magic
Chris always told me I was smart. He believed in me when no one else did.
Chris’s final text message to me (July 19, 2013, ten days before his death): Everything is good. Alyssas good (Chris's wife). The kids are good. Youll c them soon. Lynda (my wife) will be good 2. Dont worry. Theres still hope in this crazy world.
Read More: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/troyrecord/obituary.aspx?n=christopher-m-premo&pid=166134596&fhid=4843
Read More: http://www.gofundme.com/3rukgg
Read More: http://troyrecord.com/articles/2013/07/31/news/doc51f8acb3543b5697480856.txt
Thursday, August 1, 2013
Bieber concert slammed -- and was he lip-syncing?
Justin Bieber was slammed by music critics who have branded his performance in New Jersey on Wednesday "sluggish," "bored" and "lazy," and accused him of lip-syncing large portions of the show.
The teenage superstar took to the stage at the Prudential Center in Newark as part of his ongoing Believe world tour, but his lackluster performance prompted criticism from reviewers in the audience. Mesfin Fekadu of the Associated Press has written a scathing report about Bieber's show, insisting the singer was "not in pop star form," while also accusing him of lip-syncing most of his songs and failing to keep up with his dancers.
Bing: Bieber 'not in pop star form'?
"He seemed to be lip-syncing, and his sluggish, lazy dancing didn't match the oomph of the beats. Bieber phoned in a good amount during his show; at some moments, he even appeared bored. He was clocking in -- another day, another sold-out concert ... When performing the hit "Beauty and a Beat," he couldn't keep up with his background dancers ... During "She Don't Like the Lights," Bieber barely moved to the track's futuristic beat ..." wrote Fekadu, speculating that "maybe it was the leather tights?" that impeded his dance moves.
Chris Jordan of local newspaper the Asbury Park Press was also disappointed with the 19-year-old's performance, insisting the star did not deliver during the few moments of the show when he actually attempted to sing.
He wrote, "As for Bieber the performer, well, there's not a whole lot to believe in. His voice is thin and reedy ... Unfortunately, his dancing isn't any better than his singing. His turns are loose and his body control is sloppy. He seemed divided as to whether he should join his team of dancers full force or just let them do most of the work."
Why is this kid famous?
Sunday, July 28, 2013
Recently, I had the rare opportunity to travel down a ribbon of road in the small town of Averill Park called Burden Lake Road. This may be the most interesting road in America.
I have no idea where Burden Lake Road begins or ends. But I do know that Burden Lake Road has mansions with dirt driveways in front built next to dilapidated trailer-house parks. If one continues further down this mutt of a road, one will find a pizzeria, a country club, and Pulitzer-Prize-Winning Author William Kennedy’s house. But not before passing houses that surely possess a young girl named Mayella and an old chifforobe in the back bedroom in need of a good “busting up,” before another string of million-dollar palaces with eight-car garages outside. I’m very confused.
Yesterday, there was no shortage of front yards that boasted tall poles with American flags and huge carriers being loaded with colorful stock racing cars. I saw one house built to be identical (in size, shape, and color) to the garage next to it. Did you know that while driving on Burden Lake Road one can take a right (or a left) onto, um, Burden Lake Road? Is there two Burden Lake Roads you ask? Logical question. Nope, only one.
So why was I on Burden Lake Road? I was en route to a wedding reception. The outside facility was on a lake. How nice, I thought, and naturally assumed that since the hall was on Burden Lake Road, the lake was, well, Burden Lake. Nope, it wasn’t, I was told. For the lake you see while celebrating a wedding on Burden Lake Road was in fact NOT Burden Lake. Ah, Burden Lake Road.