Sunday, April 26, 2009

Red Sox Fan in NY

Anyone who knows me knows I am a die-hard Red Sox fan. No I never lived in Boston, never went to school there, never was molested by a Yankee, or had any family who hailed from there. Nope, I just love the Red Sox.

To be honest, when I was younger, I actually liked two teams: The Yankees and the Phillies. Basically, I liked who my parents liked. Mom was from Long Island and dad was from Philly. Thus my baseball devotion was split. To be honest, it was easy to like these teams. The Yankees won the series in '77 & 78' and the Phillies won in '80. My youth was quite enjoyable from a baseball standpoint. But there was only one problem. My favorite players were either Phillies or Red Sox. My favorite Yankee was probably Willie Randolph or Ron Guidry (who I still believe is the best player in baseball history, not in the Hall of Fame), but honestly, my favorite American League player was Carl Yastrzemski. I also loved Jim Rice and Fred Lynn. Even though I liked the Yankees, I knew Carlton Fisk was a much better player than Thurman Munson. In 1981, I started to hate the Yankees. I stuck with the Phillies and Mike Schmidt and Steve Carlton were my two favorite players. In 1983, The Phillies lost to the Baltimore Orioles. I found myself in a weird dilemma. I wasn't that upset. I was almost numb. I needed a team and I needed one fast. The real world series was over, but my mind was stuck on a University of Texas pitcher named Roger Clemens. Wherever he went would be my team forever.

In May of 1984, Roger Clemens came on the scene in a Boston uniform. This was an easy team to like for me. They had Dwight Evans, an outfielder with a cannon for an arm, power hitting Tony Armas, and they still had Jim Rice. An infield that had a young hitting machine named Wade Boggs. A hobbled veteran who would end up being part of the most infamous plays in World Series history, Bill Buckner. A future announcer Jerry Remy. A tough as nail catcher named Rich Gedman. They also had an eclectic group of pitchers, like Oil Can Boyd, Bruce Hurst, Al Nipper, Bobby Ojeda, and of course, Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley.

So the late 90's came and I was abused about as badly as anyone could be abused for their team loyalty. People brought up Bucky "F'in" Dent, Bill Buckner & the Mets, the Curse of the Bambino, and of course Jeter and his rings. In 2003, I sat at Piper's Kilt with a Boston Red Sox Troll doll. It looked like we had our revenge and then Aaron Boone hit a home run against Tim Wakefield that crushed my hopes. In that moment, the troll was seized and it was lit on fire, right there in the bar. The next day, I went in and there it hung, now in a noose all burned to bits. It was sad sight, but you know what they say about karma? The Yankees went on to lose the Series against a Florida Marlins team that featured a third baseman named Mike Lowell and a pitcher named Josh Beckett. The following year, things were different.

The Yankees were up three games to zero and my life was in shambles. The abuse had reached epic proportions. The Yankees were up 4-3 in the ninth when Mariano Rivera gave up a walk and the Dave Roberts stole second. He ended up scoring and Big Papi hit a walk off home run in the 12th inning. Alive, but still looking bleak, the Sox fell behind again, only to have former reliever Tom Gordon let runners on and once again Mo Rivera gave up a long fly that allowed the tying run to score. Five innings later, Big Papi did it again with a single in the 14th. Down 3-2 and going back to NY. Then the call came.

I had a ticket for game six. The place was insane. But this wasn't your father's Yankee stadium. 54,000 screaming fans, but this was weird. About 20,000 of them were in Boston hats and shirts. This would never happen in Fenway. A Sox fan selling aplayoff ticket to a guy in a Yankee jersey...blasphamous. A hobbled Curt Schilling took the mound. In what would become known as the Bloody Sock game, the injured veteran pitched a masterpiece. The Sox jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. At one point in the game Alex Rodriguez knocked the ball from pitcher Bronson Arroyo's glove and it appeared to have broken open the game. The umpires later called it interference and the Sox hatred for A-rod grew even more. We were going to game seven. I would be in the same seat as last year, front and center in Piper's Kilt and either would gloat or have my heart ripped open again

A bar filled with Yankee fans. The burned troll hanging from the wall. Within minutes Big Papi had done it again. The Sox led 2-0. Johnny Damon would hit a grand slam in the second and hours later it was over. The Red Sox celebrated in the Bronx while some idiot Yankee employee blasted New York, New York over the PA. The Sox would go on to sweep the World Series from the St. Louis Cardinals. The bar scene was dead. Yankee fans burrowed into their holes like Punxsatawny Phil waiting for February 2nd.

In 2007, the Sox acquired Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell from the Marlins, and while they did give up a lot in acquiring these guys, the move paid off. These players, plus Kevin Youkilis and Daisuke Matsuzaka ended up winning the World Series for the second time in four years.

So now it is 2009. A different year, but the same rivalry. As strong as ever. A rivalry that other sports fans just don't understand. yes it is late April and the season is only 10% over, but these games matter. These games matter more than any Ranger Playoff game, more than any NBA game, more than the Masters, the NFL draft, more than any LOST episode. These games matter because these games define Sox and Yankee fans. These games matter because what happens in April usually says a lot about what happens in the later months. Sure things will change, maybe even rosters will change from now until September, but it won't matter. Friday and Saturday I was screaming at the top of my lungs. Tonight I will be doing the same. I'll be doing it on Monday and Tuesday May 4th and 5th. Then again in early June and all seven games in August. When they play three in NY in late September, I can assure you I will be watching. I can only hope we do it again in October. Nothing in sports is better than the Red Sox playing the Yankees in the playoffs. It's like the NCAA tournament boiled down into one game. It's like the SuperBowl times ten. There is nothing that comes close to reaching this excitement.

So how does a Boston fan deal with the abuse and the ridicule of the New York fans. How do we compete with 26 rings? We don't. We just know that in the last five years we have two and they have none. We know that the last time they were in the World Series they lost and the last two times we were there we won. We know that we don't need to spend $200 million dollars to put a quality product on the field. We don't have to try and ruin a sport by overpaying for every free agent on the market. We can pay guys what they are worth and let the Yankees overpay for guys who don't pan out (see Carl Pavano, Hideki Irabu, Kei Igawa, etc etc etc.). We also don't have to get a new stadium and spend taxpayer money to do so in a community that so desperately needs the money for other resources.

You got your $200 million dollar payroll and you fancy shmancy new stadium and we got chowder heads, a wicked nice park, and the Sawks. Hey Yankees, you like apples, well we've won two since you won your last. How do you like them apples?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The seven deadly sins...are they bad?

The Catholic Church preaches about the Seven Deadly Sins and the horrors of such sinning, despite the fact the sins themselves are not listed in the Bible in any form. There are lists of virtues, but nowhere is there a list of these sins. I am not a religious man, so I say...are they really bad?

Lust - lust was seen as bad, because such lusting after another human was seen as one's love in God being secondary. Then why if you are lusting properly does the other person yell "oh God!" Listen if there is a heaven, there is a lot of lusting going on, because honestly, it's one of our primal needs. Animals have sex, bugs have sex, people have sex. The need for that sex is not developed, it is inherent. Chastity is seen as a virtue, but that has to be taught. Now lusting after farm animals. That is just sick. Unless of course you promise to eat them afterwards. Hey, I'm sure a sheep would rather go out with that kind of a bang than one from a shotgun.

Gluttony - is over-indulgence to the point of waste. Now while I think it's awful that we live in a society where food is thrown out and others go hungry, that does not mean I can't be a card carrying member of the Clean Plate Club. The church preaches about giving to the needy, but hey those churches sure look like they cost a lot, and I'm sure a smaller steeple could by a few families a happy meal. I'm not saying other religions aren't guilty too, but there are a lot more starving catholics in this country than there are other religions. Listen, i will gladly pay double for a good meal if I knew that someone else who couldn't eat was being fed, but the fact is it's not, so I'm going to enjoy my gluttonous ways and finish what is put in front of me. I'll also donate to food pantries and any other thing that I believe will help stop people from starving, so back off and don't touch my fries.

Greed - now I don't believe that greed is a good thing, because it is usually attached to betraying another to gain personal wealth. What I laugh at is all these Republican Catholics who believe that greed is bad, because the church says so, but call Obama a socialist because he wants to spread the wealth. Isn't that God's way? Hey Republican Catholics, make up your minds. You have a choice, denounce your church or denounce your party, but you can't have both ways. If you are confused about this, use your noggins for once and figure it out.

Sloth - originally sloth was the sin of sadness or despair. When one refuses to accept the goodness of God, no matter what the circumstances. This today could be seen as the "divine intervention" and the plan that the big guy has for all of us. Now it is seen as the inability for a person to utilize god's gifts to better society or himself. So basically sloth is 99% of college students and the work force. Is this a bad thing. If everyone lived up to their expectations, stupid people would be enslaved and doing what I do, and I'd be sitting getting fed grapes, of course letting some moron peel them, just to employ them. I'm always thinking about others.

Wrath - No dummies, this isn't the thing you put on your door at Christmas time. This is a big time sin. You know the uncontrollable feeling you felt when they took Doogie Howser, M.D. off the air, because you weren't sure if that girl on the show would end up hot or not. I think she did. No Wrath is a biggie. It is the manifestation of anger and being too impatient to let justice run it's course. Wrath is an eye for an eye, and I don't think that's all that bad. Why is do unto others OK, but wrath is bad? Why does that proverb only work when people do nice things. Listen, I'll do unto others when they do that thing with their tongue, but if they spill my beer and don't buy me a new one, it's on like Genghis Khan (much crazier than his half-brother Donkey Kong).

Envy - I'll keep this simple. If a higher being didn't want there to be envy. He/she wouldn't have put urinals so close together. Listen, we all want something a little bigger, a little better, a little shinier. That's why I always buy Mag lite flashlights. They are exceptional tools and when stuffed in one's shorts make the user feel like Ron Jeremy minus the back hair.

Pride - Now this is considered the most serious sin. Yet, we're always taught t walk tall and be proud. It is seen as a desire to be better than others and not taking note of their achievements. Basically it's the thought that one has reached a level as high if not higher than God. The greatest example of pride in the Bible is Lucifer. His constant competition with God had him banished from Heaven and subsequently he became Satan. Pride is shown in the Bible before moments of failure. So when you're little Joey makes that volcano in science class, sneak in the morning before the science fair and put some little people in the path of the volcano. Show him that while he made the best one in the class, he just destroyed an entire village. Then tell him "nice try Joey, way to try and be like God, enjoy your C- you little shit." That will make him appreciate the poor kid in the class who showed how if you put olive oil on your finger and put pepper in a glass of water, the pepper goes to the sides.

But seriously if the sins are all so good, what about the virtues we always hear about. Pope Gregory the Great (wouldn't his name alone commit the sin of Pride?) came up with seven contrary virtues. I don't know about these, but that's an argument for another day.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

How I Beat Anorexia!

Anorexia nervosa is defined as a mental illness characterized by low body weight and a distorted body image, with a severe fear of gaining weight. I would like to say, I have conquered this illness and now have some other mental illnesses to work on.

Listen, I'm no Jared from Subway, but I feel my story should be told. If I can help just one emaciated sole, I have done my job. It was a long fight, but I conquered my demons, and now I am not only twice the man I once was, but I provide small children with shade on hot summer's days.

It all started in the summer of 1988. I had just graduated high school and a friend of mine liked to drive around all night while I got drunk. So each night we'd buy some Doritos and a case of beer and a few of us would drive around. The weight started to rise, but I'd usually drink too much and puke, causing me to lose my nutritional overload. I guess I beat bulimia too when I come to think about it. I continued this charade, while slipping into bars here and there, but the weight was only gradually gaining. A full schedule for sports and continued regurgitation and I just wasn't feeling good about myself. Then I went on unemployment and had nothing to do. I started a strict regimen of waking at 4PM, eating dinner and going to the bar until 4AM. Darts took over for basketball and in three months I had gained almost forty pounds. This was child's play. I needed to pack on some more pounds. I was still cold in the winter and this just wasn't acceptable. What could I do?

Well in 1996 I decided to go back to school I was at Manhattan College competing in many classes with those much younger and leaner and I know I had to gain some weight if I wanted to bully them around. I ended up tearing my ACL and opted out of surgery. Where was I going, the NBA? No way, I had grander visions of hot dog and hamburger eating competitions. The knees were shot and I was stuck hanging out with college kids all day. Well, when in Rome. I started doing shots and drinking like a madmen. My GPA (Gallons of Potent Alcohol) was on the rise and people seemed to like me. I realized that the skinny me was liked, but the new me had somewhat of a Santa quality. The winter came and shorts and a t-shirt was all that was needed. I was happy knowing that heat was something for the old me. I could sustain on sub-balmy temperatures and be happy. I also had stopped vomiting after marathon drinking sessions.

I remember the old days fondly. I remember when a six-pack was a body part, now it's hors d'oeuvres before a baseball game. I think back to shirts that didn't have an X in the size. I figure if I can continue my life's battles, I can work my way up to porno shirts (XXX baby!). Sure there are people who will make fun of me, and I get the circus tent jokes and stuff like that, but nobody knows what it was like. With my new body, I hardly notice the fungus growing in between my toes. Because honestly, when it comes to toes, I'll take your word for it that I have them.

I don't want admiration or fanfare, if you see me, no words are necessary, just buy me a beer. I am just here to inspire...or is it perspire.

Disclaimer: This is in no means a cry for help. I realize that a diet of beer and fried food is not a diet at all. I know that obesity and alcohol are not things to make fun of. I also realize that their are people who really do struggle with anorexia and for this I am ashamed...hold on, trying to eat and type at the same time....and I wish that they would realize that people love them for who they are not what they look like. Except for that girl who turned me down in grammar school. She is both too skinny and too fat and I hopes she chokes to death on her next meal, whether it be going into her or coming out.

Friday, April 17, 2009

John Madden Retires - Finally

Yesterday, John Madden retired as a football announcer. Yesterday I turned the volume up on my television. John Madden is a hall of fame coach and announcer and for what I'm not quite sure. He was successful as a coach but really didn't coach long enough to warrant hall pf fame status. His greatest achievement was slapping his name on a video game that changed the way sports games looked. Ironically, I think over the years the game, like the announcer has gotten worse.

My biggest problem with John Madden is that he's a TV announcer. If he was a radio guy, I'd appreciate his analysis, but when I watch a guy get tackled, I know he got tackled. I don't need someone telling me he got tackled. Adding bam, bop, pow or any other Batman-like sound effect doesn't change the tackle for me. He is truly Captain Obvious. He once said "offensive lineman are the biggest guys on the field, because they are the biggest, and this is what makes them the biggest guys on the field." Thank you for your gems of wisdom Mr. Madden.

I wish no ill will on John Madden and think he has changed the way the game is commentated, but I don't think it's all for the best. A great game needs no announcer. A great play needs no explanation. John Madden and Chris Berman are two people who I have always felt detract from the game. I wish him well in his retirement and hope he enjoys his time with his children. I know I will enjoy football a lot more this season.

Oh wait, he's being replaced by Cris Collnsworth and Troy Aikman? Good lord....bring back John Madden....Doink!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

One a lighter note, yeah right!

I apologize to anyone who actually cares enough to read my blogs for not posting one yesterday. I have promised myself not to write when I am annoyed, as I might post something to offend someone. Who am I kidding? I am sure pretty much everything I write offends someone. Frankly, I don't care. Here's my problem with everyone today. There is no individuality anymore. Everyone wants to be like someone else or be part of a popular group. Reality TV and our new wave of pop culture shows us that being petty and stupid is cool. Following the mainstream is the way to go. People, step right up and drink the Kool Aid, because you know what, if you are one of these dime a dozen people, you might as well kill yourself.

When did thinking for yourself become a uncool. I go out on any given night and I talk smack about Sports, Religion, TV, Politics, Child Rearing, Music or any other multitude of topic. You know why? Because I can. Because I know enough about any number of topics to carry a conversation. Ask me about a catalytic converter or dual exhaust and I will look at you like a dog who lost his bone, but if I don't know anything about a topic, I won't pretend, because that will just embarrass myself. Why can't people follow these rules? Listen if you think the Baroque period was when Obama took office, you're a dumb ass. If you think Derek Jeter is a great fielder, you don't watch baseball enough. If you think Rock of Love is reality, you should dive under a bus. I watched this show the other night and didn't know who I felt worse for, the contestants or the millions of people that watch this. Absolutely disgraceful. If you have a child and they get a bloody nose and you tell them to lean their head back. Shoot yourself. That makes the blood go down their throat and will make them sick. If you think Dave Matthews is a great singer, you're wrong....OK, I'll agree that music taste is all opinion. Hell I honestly enjoy the Spice Girls. Finally, and this is for all my Catholic friends. If you think the Immaculate Conception is the birth of Christ, you are an idiot and should go right to hell. I took a religion class at Manhattan College (a catholic collge college mind you) and the teacher asked us the first day what the Immaculate Conception was and 21 catholics all raised their hand and one by one he abused them for not knowing. He got to me and I said "the birth of Mary without original sin. She was born with Divine grace." How can a class full of people who spent their life "practicing" a religion not know this. Sadly very few people know this. So thank me for the one thing you learned today! I've read the Bible (new and old testaments), I've read the Quran, I've read excerpts from the Tibetan Book of the Dead, I've read books on Buddhist, Hindu, Native American and African Religions. I've read freaking everything, and while I do not have a photographic memory, I can tell you they are all nucking futs. In my humble opinion, and I am sorry to offend, but to believe, you have to suspend logic and reason to have faith. Sure, faith is important in context, but to give up common sense, even scientific evidence just to have faith. Well that's a mighty big pill to swallow. Maybe that's why I could never funnel a beer to me it was the journey that counted, not the end result?

Here's my big problem with society right now. We're all like sponges that soak up whatever we see and hear. The problem is that so few people go out of their way to soak in everything that is available to them. I'm a nerd. If I hear something I don't know, I research it thoroughly. The problem with sponges is that sometimes you absorb dirt. This is hard to get rid of. Listen, I love Jon Stewart, but there are times when I think he is a little off base. So I usually research what he says, and surprisingly, more times than not his crazy comments can be backed up with multiple facts. Then I turn on a guy like Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly or Keith Olberman and I listen and get the same feeling. I do some research and find that things aren't exactly the way they are said. In fact, many times they are the opposite. Problem is that most people are lazy and take what they hear to be true. I have a huge problem with this. Bill O'Reilly once said about a kid who was kidnapped for years and sexually abused, that the kid probably enjoyed the experience and that he probably was having more fun than he would have at home or school. When handed the detailed report of 94 accounts of criminal and sexual abuse, O'reilly claimed to have had nightmares just from reading the account. He still never apologized or recanted his statement. So what was said with such fervor was absorbed by his followers, but his half-hearted recanting of these comments was nothing but a blip on one of his shows. Sadly people believed his crap. Problem today is that nobody is held accountable for their actions. Maybe they should be. I'd like to think if someone ever said that a victim of sexual abuse enjoyed it in front of me, that they wouldn't be standing much longer.

Tax day is today and I owe the IRS money for back taxes. Guess what? My fault. I am 22 credits from a degree and owe $36,000 in loans. Didn't go back. Guess what? My fault. I have bad credit because I didn't pay bills on time. Again, My fault. I'm overweight because I eat a lot and I drink too much. Nobody to blame but myself. There are many things I can blame on other people and factors, but you know what. Does anyone care? No way! My parents did their best for me and my brother and while maybe there are one or two things they would change, we both ended up being pretty good people. But is that enough. I look at friends, friends kids, kids today, and I worry, because some won't be good people. Some won't be smart people. Some won't do for others. I know tons of parents my age and older whose kids aren't exactly swinging from the top rung of the smarts ladder and they blame everyone but themselves. Kids get in fights, in accident, arrested they blame society. We are in a time where nobody holds themselves accountable and our future generations are just getting worse. When I was in HS I worked 40 hours a week. I know kids in HS with $30,000 cars who have never had a job. I know kids who have gone through HS and college without ever having any real jobs. My friend's son just graduated college in three years and I believe got a scholarship to grad school. He also worked the entire time and had a social life. Why is this so crazy and not the norm? I'll also add that this kid had much more responsibility at a young age than almost any kid I know. Why is he not admired more by his peers?

I wish I had a bigger forum out there. I wish I could grab a hold of thousands of people instead of five or ten. I have friends who love the movie Pay it Forward. I for one, do not. I like the concept. but there is a huge problem with the concept. People aren't willing to better themselves, so how can they pay it forward. It seems to me we're paying it forward with counterfeit promises. Doesn't this in the end pay it backwards? Aren't parents who brag about how well they've done without school doing a disservice to their children? Shouldn't they be the ones to push their kids harder? Shouldn't someone who grew up eating microwave dinners learn to cook for themsleves (I'm still trying to be 1/100th the cook my mother was and she did it after working 9-5)? Shouldn't someone who was held back because of their race or religion, push their kids that much harder to achieve and not rely on the past indiscretions as their excuse? I feel I have lead a fortunate life. Not one of riches in money terms, but riches in learning opportunities, in culture (not of the pop variety), and in experiences that were made available to me. In my childhood home there were walls and walls devoted to books and records of all types, I was free to look and listen to anything I chose and in many ways it helped create the person I am today. Look at your walls and ask yourself are you bettering yourself and those around you. Or are you paying it backwards?

Monday, April 13, 2009

What happened?

In the past twenty years the things that matter most to me have changed so drastically I sometimes wonder if I am the same person. Did I get a lobotomy? Are body snatchers real?

In 1989 I was always avoiding my parents and family. In 2009, I cherish the moments I have with my father, brother, and grandmother. They are all the real family I have left and it makes me wonder if I didn't miss out on some stuff from yesteryear.

In 1989, I looked at females and wondered what they looked like naked. In 2009, I wonder if they can carry a conversation for 15 minutes without mentioning some reality TV show and if they actually know what is going on in the world.

In 1989, I loved sports, but wouldn't care if I missed a game. In 2009, I never miss a big game. While this aspect of my life might seem childish, it's those special moments in sports that bring me happiness.

In 1989, I loved to fight. Seriously, it's sick, but I loved it. I got into some fracas almost every weekend. I almost got turned on by fighting. In 2009, I avoid physical confrontations at almost all costs.

In 1989, I thought I knew everything. In 2009, I try and learn something new every day. What I do know is that 19-year olds today are a lot dumber than we were in 1989.

In 1989, I spent about 10 minutes in front of a computer a week. Now that's about my hourly average.

In 1989, I spent about 20 minutes brushing my hair before going out. In 2009, I shave my head because I just don't have the patience.

In 1989, I thought I knew what love was. In 2009, I know what it is, but not sure how to attain it.

In 1989, I could hit a baseball 400ft, I could throw a football 54 yards (and 30 with my left hand), I could get rim playing basketball. I could drive a golf ball 270+ yards. I could jog a mile in 7 minutes and actually jump a hurdle. In 2009, I have two torn ACL's, one torn rotator cuff, I can't play any sports anywhere near where I used to, but damn can I watch me some sports. Plus, if you see me running, you better start running too, because something terrifying is chasing me.

In 1989, a perfect day was getting drunk, getting laid, and ending up at the diner at 5AM for coffee. In 2009, I'm happy with the coffee.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Baby Bucket List

Everyone knows about the Bucket List. The list of things you want to accomplish before you die. Well, I don't plan on dying this year, but there are a few easy things to attain that I would like to try before this year ends. I've been slacking and I've let three and a half months go by before starting this list. So here it goes. Now mind you, these are not monumental achievements, but things I could probably accomplish in a weekend, but probably won't for any number of reasons.

1. Play Beer Pong - as a professional beer drinker it's almost criminal that I have not played this game. It seems to me to be the perfect sport for me. For some reason I have never played. To be honest, I've never even seen the game being played. Can someone please invite me to a game. I love to drink, I love sports, and who doesn't like Mononucleosis? It's the Kissing Disease!

2. Try Foie Gras - it's rich and bad for you. PETA is against it. How could this possibly be a bad thing.

3. Not cry at my brother's wedding - My brother's getting married in September and I love that (not so) little son of a bitch more than anyone in the world. I never tell him and he never tells me, but we both know. I can't wait for this day. I won't cry because he's getting married, but because my mother won't be there to enjoy it. All she ever wanted was for us to be happy and have kids. That day will probably be an emotional one. Thankfully he is marrying one of the sweetest people I know, and I hope they have a wonderful life together, but nobody wants to see an overweight drunk guy stuffed into a tuxedo cry. It's just not a pretty sight.

4. Go to Ellis Island - How sad is it I lived in Brooklyn for 15 years and live in Westchester and I have been to the Empire State Building, The Statue of Liberty, the World Trade Center but never to Ellis Island. Criminal!

5. See my friends Brett, Troy & Simon - Good friends I saw every summer & every Memorial Day for years. Then I missed the summers but we continued the holiday tradition. People got busy, I crashed a car, I had to help out at a mini-special Olympics (which the guys still don't believe), and assorted other life altering events. These are three great people who I miss dearly and I've been so bad at keeping in touch with. I will try and make amends. Hopefully this reunion can take place in Wolfeboro.

6. Rent a house by a lake - This ties into 5, but if not with them, maybe another group could participate. Even if for only a weekend. I want to wake and make breakfast, then sit on a dock, have drinks, soak in the sun, play simple games like horseshoes and bocce. Watch the sunset while eating barbecued anything and spend the evening laughing. Two or three days of this and I'll be set for the next couple of months.

7. Go to Boston - I haven't been in a while and while NY is great, walking (and drinking) in Boston is an experience. From Fenway to Cambridge, Faneuil Hall to Back Bay, I want to soak it up. I've never had a bad time in Boston. I can't say that about too many places in this world.

8. I want to eat at a top restaurant - I want to see how the "other half" lives. I want to dine at Le Bernardin or Per Se or any number of top ten places. I would love to eat an entire menu of flavors and foods I have never experienced before. I want that feeling of trying something different. A once in a lifetime experience.

9. I want to spend a day in NYC & Brooklyn (My old stomping grounds) seeing all the things I've passed over - I've been to quite a few museums and sites, but I'm sure there are some I have overlooked. Despite living minutes from Manhattan, my ventures into the city are usually yearly treks to McSorley's or on occasion meeting friends for drinks or dinner. I need to explore my own backyard and enjoy what the city has to offer.

10. The last item on my list is the easiest - I want to try to stop procrastinating. I've always been the kind of person that needs the flame under my ass to get going. I would have weeks to do a research paper in college and I'd wait until I had about 16 hours to finish. I'd lazily get to the library right before it closed, print our some info from the Internet, grab a book or two and then start my research. About 10PM I'd start typing the paper that was supposed to be 5 pages and I'd end up handing in about 12 pages that I would finish around 5AM. The scary thing was that in all my years of college, other than a kinesiology paper, I don't think I ever got anything lower than a B+. Sadly this doesn't translate in the real world. In the real world waiting to do stuff usually means missing the boat. There are more consequences. Bad grades are unimportant, bad outcomes are very important. Waiting doesn't make things go away, it only enhances the pressures and negatives. If there is one thing I....oh I'll finish this later.

Friday, April 10, 2009

All about Facebook

When I first joined Facebook, or FB as the kids call it, I said to everyone that it would be the demise of friendships and relationships everywhere. I figured people would get drunk and post something on someones wall when they meant to send a message and all hell would break loose. Not to mention that everybody "friends" their exes. Hell I am friends with almost all my exes. Almost everyone I've ever slept with is a friend. I'm friends with other people's exes also. To be honest, I'm friends with people I don't really like that much. I'm friends with one or two people I don't even know. Who cares? I know I don't but some people do. I'm friends with exes and their spouses. I'm friends with a girl whose heart I broke, but you know what? We're friends in real life. I'm friends with people who broke my heart, but you know what? We're friends in real life also. People say life goes on and actually, it does.

The reason I like facebook is that it allows me to keep up with friends without being intrusive. I can read their status updates, their comments, look at pictures of their kids and not have to speak about it every time I see them. Which leads me to the best part of facebook. Hey, Moms and Dads out there. You love your kids, you think they are the most adorable thing ever, and you know what...nobody, and I mean nobody wants to spend 20 minutes of their life looking at their pictures or listening to them try and talk. Facebook allows me not only to look at my friends kid's pics, but not have to discuss them or hear the play-by-play of what was going on when it was taken. Even better, when I see them and they start to talk...I can say "saw them, facebook." It's truly beautiful.

Speaking of pictures. I gotta little bone to pick with everyone over the age of sixteen. If you feel the need to purse your lips, give the middle finger or the shocker, or pose for every pic in the exact same pose. You're, you're, you're a freaking imbecile. I'm sorry, every time someone takes a picture, why would anyone feel the need to pretend to kiss the camera? It's idiotic. It's also not very original. It also dawned on me that facebook has changed the way people go out. Who the heck takes pictures every time they go out? I've gone out quite a few times and in all those times, I think I've taken three pictures. I will also tell you this. I have never and will never take a picture of myself out. Seriously, even in foreign countries you can get someone to take your picture. Finally, Why do you feel the need to extend your arm and take the pic? What is that all about?

Status updates. The root of all evil. Wanna bash a team, tell someone something cryptic, maybe even quote someone and try and pawn it off as your own original thought. Well that's what status updates are for. I love saying the Yankees suck, or mentioning what I did with someone without giving their name, and quoting the Bible but using the name Ed instead of God. People think it's mysterious and spooky. Then they comment and you feel like you own the world. OK, I'm exaggerating a bit. I usually make jokes or try to antagonize the mentally less fortunate with my posts. You wanna know what I hate more than anything. When someone writes "John Doe is." How existential? The people that write this must be so smart. They are one with the world. They exist...let's give them a big hug and tell them that when they figure out how t write real sentences we'll give them a piece of chocolate. This infuriates me.

I thought school taught me that most people are stupid, materialistic, and insensitive, but school doesn't hold a candle to facebook. Listen there is nothing wrong with keeping things simple, being proud of what you have achieved and talking about it. That is fine. But listen, if you make a comment on someones page arguing with them, back it up with facts, even if you are making them up. Don't just make silly comments. If you put an update on about something or someone, take into account that what you are writing might hurt someone the message wasn't intended for. If you buy a house, be proud and show pictures. But or God's sake, we don't need to see every square inch of it, we don't need to know what it cost, and we definitely don't need to hear this every day for weeks on end. If you're going on vacation, all the best to you. Enjoy it with whoever you are sharing your time with. Get back put some pics up, we love it. What we don't need to hear is the blow by blow vacation recap. One nobody cares, and two, if we don't get six weeks vacation, we don't want to hear about every trip you take. Finally, teachers, and yes I work in a school so I get these benefits, stop complaining about how hard your day was. You work five hours half the days of the year. Most people work 8-10hrs 220days a year and make half the money you make. I apologize to all my teacher friends, but you guys know you have it good. Also, if you are a stay at home mom and every status update is about you getting your hair and nails done, getting drunk during lunch and going to spas....stop it! Child Services will be calling you shortly. AND PEOPLE! If you have kids, could you occasionally write something positive about the fact you have them. All I ever read is negative comments about pulling their hair out, crying, screaming. Single mom's & dad's, you are absolved of this wrath. You have the hardest job out there.

I love the lists. The top fives. We all love lists and I love seeing what other people like. I love seeing some guy I always thought was a tough guy saying he likes Rick Astley and Milli Vanilli for his favorite singers. I love when a girl says she's a Sox fan. By the way ladies, just so you know, we guys love the fact you love your hair, but seriously, guys love chicks in baseball hats. More pics please, haha! I created some lists and was surprised by how they took off. Does facebook owe me money? I need some.

Now here's my biggest pet peeve. These stupid clubs or whatever they are. Sure I'm a fan of Criminal Minds, but I chose to be. I love the Spice Girls. What I don't want is every time I sign on to have to sift through all those invitations to >insert disease or cause here<. If you have cancer, I will hold you in my thoughts the way I did my mother, but me joining facebookers for cancer cures isn't going to do anything. I'm sorry people in the police and fire departments lose their lives every year, but I don't need to join a charity for them every time it happens. By the way, back off, my brother and most of my best friends are cops & firemen and they don't do this crap. If something is dear to your heart post it on your page and people who need to will find it. Stop throwing me an Easter Egg or a Brett Favre Jersey. or an afternoon cocktail and for heaven's sake...the rain forest is not going to be saved because you sent me tulips. If you wanna do something with your tulips...well, you get the idea.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Holy Week

I find it kind of funny that the week that includes Passover and Easter is called Holy Week. Since when are the most important dates on the religious calenders for Jews and Catholics hyped like a used car ad? Surprisingly enough, if you ask most people what the biggest holidays are they will say Christmas and Hanukkah. After all, most people are stupid.

So how do we celebrate Jesus' resurrection from the dead following his crucifixion? We color eggs, eat chocolate bunnies, and pig out. Nothing quite says thank you lord for dying for our sins quite like chocolate bunnies. Seriously, what the f***? Who thought of this? We'll get back to this. One thing I guarantee most Catholics don't know is that Easter is the Greek word for Passover. Sure, the Bible states that the wine was eaten after the bread, which is the reverse order in a Passover Seder, but it's semantics, the Last Supper was a Passover meal. Then there's the famous Da Vinci painting. I think only Dogs Playing Poker is more popular than this painting. This was the original Entourage.

So in Passover, the Jews celebrate their exodus from Egypt and the ending of their enslavement. Once again, people put their minds together and how do we celebrate leaving a journey in the desert? By eating unleavened bread. Matzo. If there's one thing that refreshes on a hot day, it's matzo. Just don't try whistling afterwards. it's like a saltine, without the salt. But it can also be covered in chocolate, which I have to believe was to keep little Jewish kids from wanting to convert to the bunny religion.

These days are of the utmost importance to religious people, but the average person looks at them more for what marketing has turned them into. Easter has egg hunts and Passover has matzo hunts. How does Christ coming back from the dead and Jews fleeing Egypt translate to "let's hide stuff and make the kids look for it?" OK the egg makes some sense, because it is a symbol of rebirth, but coloring or making it into chocolate and telling people a big bunny hid it. When did bunnies start laying eggs anyway?

Now I grew up in a family that celebrated both holidays. So basically this meant going to one side of the family in the middle of the week and to the other side on Sunday. I liked both holidays because usually it meant one thing "good eats!" Passover was always matzo ball soup, gifelte fish w/horseradish and brisket. My mother made the best brisket I have ever tasted (including BBQ joints) and I always looked forward to this. Sitting listening to two hours of reading only angered me. Bring me some beef! For Easter it was usually lamb. I could eat lamb every night, so I was a happy camper. I always hated going to certain people's houses, because we'd have a boring ham. Ham is alright, but it's meant to be on a sandwich with cheese not in the middle of the table. Hey if I ever come back from the dead and someone offers me ham, there's going to be a fight. Plus, the holidays combine nicely. One of my favorite things is hard boiled egg, sliced and put on matzo with a little mayo.

Despite being raised a little more Jewish, I never went to Temple for Passover. I don't even know if people do this honestly. Only once did I go to a church on Easter and let me tell you. I feel for anyone who does that every Sunday. You should go right to heaven if it exists, because I think I'd rather book a week at Guantanamo than sit through that every week.

Whatever your religious path is, this is a big week. Enjoy it. Take in the moments with your family. Don't stress the religious aspect of it. Jesus spent it with friends and Jews are celebrating their freedom. You should do the same. Enjoy whatever it is that you sit down to eat. Take time to spend some time with all your loved ones, especially you younger people. There will be a time when some of them won't be around and I can attest that things change and it's your responsibility to carry on these traditions. I have one parent, one brother, and one grandparent left and I most likely won't be spending the holidays with them. The opportunities will become less and less, so those of you who can spend these times with your loved ones, embrace the opportunity and enjoy.

Happy Easter
Happy Passover
Who will win the Masters?

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Last Time the Yankees Won

For years I was a long suffering Red Sox fan. Then they won and everything changed. The shoe was on the other foot, or should I say sock? Now it was the dreaded Yankees on the outside looking in. Most Yankees fans answer every question with "26 Rings baby." I've always thought this was kinda funny, because it was always either you win it all or you're nothing before then. It sure does seem like a long time since that October day in 2000 when they last won.

How long has it really been? Bill Clinton was in the White House. Matchbox 20 was popular. Tom Hanks was stuck on an island having odd relations with a volleyball and Russell Crowe was just becoming a household name. Hell that blond hottie from Heroes was the coach's little daughter in Remember the Titans. It was so long ago steroids weren't an issue. As a matter of fact, the Yankees probably lead the league in guys who ended up testing positive. Thank you Mr. Canseco.

The most notable difference was obviously in New York. The Twin Towers stood tall. This was pre-9/11. Now it seems everything has changed. The U.S. wasn't at war the last time the Yankees won. Glenn Beck was still an alcoholic and not sort of sober telling everyone they are fascists. OK, I could have said that two years ago, that's not a good choice. Jon Stewart really didn't have anything to make fun of other than Monica and the cigar. HEy I think smoking was still allowed in NY bars!

The Yankees have won 775 games in this time and made the playoffs all but once. No team has played better and had it matter less than the Yankees over this period of time. So to all you Yankees fans who always said "It's all about the rings." Sorry, my grin is blocking my view.

If someone told a Yankee fan in 2000, that in nine years we'd be at war, we'd have a black president, a deficit beyond control, no more twin towers, the number one show on TV is a singing contest in which about three of the eight million people that try out have talent, the ice caps are melting, Cd's would be nearly obsolete, and the Yankees would not win another world series...would anyone have believed them?

I was going to ask all the Yankees fans one question but I think Janet Jackson said it best when she asked "What have you done for me lately?" I'd say see you in October, but we really don't know anymore, do we?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Maslow and Today's World

I was taught a lot of things during my many years in school. I say taught, and not learned, because I don't really feel I learned that much. Many things I was taught I already knew. Many things I was taught aren't so anymore. Many things I was taught were opinions of people, given a position of authority, and hammered into the heads of innocent minds. One thing that stood out in my years of schooling, and one thing which still resonates today was the Hierarchy of Needs developed by Abraham Maslow in the Early 1940's.

Maslow studied the top 1% of college students and of exemplary people such as Albert Einstein. This pyramid of needs is put in order of importance, with the basis of life listed on the bottom and the top being self-actualization. Now while his "research" only looked at the elite, it struck me as quite accurate, in that so few of us realize our own self worth, many for reasons decided in the lower levels of this pyramid. I feel today, as I have met thousands of people that this is true. I mean not to offend anyone, but just my perceptions. Perhaps, I am wrong and looking through rose colored glass. Like all theories, this one has been bashed by many. I find it to be valid.

The bottom level is physiological needs such as food, water, sleep, breathing, excretion. These needs are those needed to survive. Without these there can be no advancement, and it is believed that without these, the core of the next level can not be attained. Think about people who are starving or sick, and how difficult it would be for them to worry about more important aspects of life. In today's world, especially in third world nations, these needs are not being met. In our country more and more are at risk every day. We try to go forward, but for many, who are hungry sick, this is impossible.

The next level is safety & security. That of having employment, family, health, and property. Basically this is the need for us to have a means to support ourselves, have the support of our family, and to have shelter and good health. Sadly, this is where our country seems to drop the ball. A better health care system, call it what you will for those who do not like the term socialized, is so important. The family structure is also in trouble. With divorce and unemployment rates at staggering highs, we have to worry about our basic security needs. At times, the support of a strong family can overcome some of the other aspects of this level, but somewhere along the line, there must be some security to achieve the next level.

The third level is love and belonging. Some might think this is the first level as it contains friendship, family and sexual intimacy, but it is difficult to have a strong family bond without the first two levels. Unlike adolescent sex, adult intimacy is much more complex than its younger counterpart. This nurturing by others brings us acceptance and initimacy. Sadly, this is where most people's lives stop. The desire to be loved is so strong, that when people feel they have lost this level, the results can often be tragic. Then again, they might have a family who loves them through thick and thin, friends, and someone who is attracted to them physically and fulfills those needs, but still, this is only the halfway point. The fractured family structure and the gossip-fueled society we live in, has truly damaged this level. TV, movies, newspapers and magazines have changed the American vision. No longer is the wife, two kids and the white picket fence the norm or the dream. At least not from what I see.

The next level is esteem. The ability to have confidence, the respect of and by others, and a feeling of achievement. Now very few people would ever say they don't have these things, but honestly, very few people exude confidence. Very few people have the respect of their peers. Many of us have jobs that pay the bills, some handsomely, but how many of us have a feeling of achievement. Does the average person go to work, come home and go to sleep feeling that everything they have done during the day was respected? Do they have a feeling of achievement? I highly doubt it. What about people in power? They seem to have less respect than any in today's world. It's a scary thought. Every day we seem to hear about a hostage crisis or a shooting spree, and we listen to experts say this and that, when the reality is that all these people really needed was someone to tell them something positive, or maybe they just needed to be loved. Many times, it's that simple.

The top level of the pyramid is self-actualization. In many ways this is a rare level. It's the recognition of one's morals, creativity, problem solving, and reaching one's needs without prejudice or hurting another. It is important to distinguish self-actualization from achievement. This is not a driving force necessarily, but a realization. Sure, there might be some people who walked all over people to fulfill their dreams, but the reality is, they know this, thus it is not self-actualization.

Sure there are problems with this model, because many might say they have reached one level, while bypassing the others, but if you really break it down, it's impossible. Can you have creativity and realize your dream as a starving artist who becomes famous, if you didn't have the love and admiration of others? Was your drive to be famous? Then possibly, you haven't reached the final stage. I'd like to say I'm somewhere in category four, although sometimes monetary problems may thrust me down to level two. There are times when I am working with kids and a parent tells me five years later that I had a positive effect on their child. I have recognized my dream, but then the reality is, that this compliment and good feeling might not be shared by all and isn't respected because I was in a can't fail situation. Who knows?

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs isn't how we measure ourselves to others, it's how we measure ourselves, period. One should be aware of their environment and try to be authentic and stress their individuality. Something that is very difficult in today's world. If you feel the need to buy a Coach bag because your neighbor has one, buying it isn't self actualization, it's making up for not having parts of the esteem level.

An interesting movie (and book) that somewhat relates to this topic is Into the Wild. A young man goes to live in the wilderness and believes he doesn't need possessions, friendship, or love to realize himself. In the beginning he's quoting Thoreau and how money, love, possessions mean nothing, and only the truth matters. In the end, in his own almost dementia inspired words, he scribbles in a notebook "Happiness only real when shared." While the movie is very Hollywood, and I didn't like the main character, the message is that when we run away from things for the sake of running away from them, we lose the ability to share experiences with people, good and bad, and grow from them.

My point in this post is that in today's world we constantly hear about fate and destiny. We hear that people get what they deserve. In our political lives right now we're hearing people say we're moving towards socialism and that people must learn and provide for themselves. My argument against these thoughts is that if one out of three of us can not attain the third level of Maslow's pyramid. How can the rest of us strive to achieve the fifth, without prejudice towards those who can not?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Remember your first time?

Do you remember your first time? I remember mine. I was nervous. I didn't know if it would live up to the expectations. There could have been a million people around, but it was just the two of us. I gazed lovingly, awe struck by the beauty. It was right there in front of me for the taking. I spread the sides gently to see what was in store. I could see it glisten and could smell it's deliciousness. I leaned in and soaked in the aroma. I nibbled at it and the juices flowed down my chin. I couldn't believe how moist it was. I knew this was a moment I would cherish for the rest of my life. In seconds the experience was over. In a way I was let down, because it was over before it started. There would be other times. Maybe it was because it was my first time, maybe I was just overzealous. Who knows, but damn that first Piper's Kilt burger was delicious.