12.14.09 – A Monday

Last Friday night, my Uncle Joe died unexpectedly. He was probably the most affable and good-natured guy you’d have the good fortune to come across. Of my five brothers and sisters, I was probably the least close to Joe, and I’m pretty sure I was the only one who’d never gone to visit him at his home in Maryland. And I’m equally sure I’ll regret that for the rest of my life. Just kind of figured he’d be around to hang out with. Life is ruthlessly unpredictable, folks. Get out there and grab what you can from it. 

This post is dedicated to Uncle Joe. 

WORD

nonpareil [non-puhrel] adj. 1. having no equal; peerless n. 2. a person or thing having no equal 3. a small pellet of colored sugar for decorating candy, cake, and cookies 4. a flat, round, bite-sized piece of chocolate covered with this sugar

BIRTHDAY

Nostradamus (1503), Spike Jones (1911), Lee Remick (1935), Patty Duke (1946), Michael Ovitz (1946), Beth Orton (1970)

STANDPOINT

Last week I commented on Allen Iverson’s return to the Philadelphia 76ers.

For the record, I like Allen Iverson. I always have. Even when, in 2002, he threw his naked wife out of their house in Gladwyne, where I grew up. Lots and lots of things happened as a result of A.I.’s actions, including causing me to be over two hours late for some family function due to the fact every TV news van in the country was trying to get into probably the least traffic-friendly town you can imagine.  

In any case, the return of Allen Iverson has left me with mixed emotions. I’m glad he’s back, but as I stated last week, I’m curious as to why everyone else is.

Philadelphia has a history of taking young, talented athletes and making them regret they ever played their respective sport. The Philadelphia PhilliesMike Schmidt was deemed the best third baseman in history. Eric Lindros had a career for the Philadelphia Flyers that placed him, for much of it, in the same company as Gordie Howe, Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky. On any other team in the NFL, Philadelphia Eagles‘ quarterback Donovan McNabb would be credited for being one of the best at his position in the past decade. Allen Iverson, in his first stint with the 76ers, was a diminutive individual, usually scoring more than double the points of the giants he played against.

And where did it get them? Schmidt retired as a Phillie but left here so damaged it took him almost a decade to return to the fans who booed much harder when he didn’t get the job done as they cheered when he did. Lindros’ story is much more complicated but, even with all the drama and concussions, he’s still a fringe candidate for the debate of who’s the best player in NHL history, even Bobby Clarke thinks so. McNabb still manages to come to work every Sunday and play for a bunch of worthless fans who’ve forgotten the likes of Bobby Hoying, Bubby Brister and Rodney Peete. And Iverson was one of the best in the NBA, while playing for a team that seemed content to let him try to win a championship all by himself.

Which begs the question, why would anyone come play in Philadelphia, a city where even those days when probably capable of better, and those days when you don’t live up to expectations there’s a million people leading the charge for your head? Don’t believe me? This past Phillies-Yankees World Series, I forget which game it was. I was at a bar and Phillies’ slugger Ryan Howard was striking out. A lot. And one of the morons sitting around me said, “Man, would you look at this fuckin’ bum on the goddamn television?” Yeah, genius, I was looking at the TV. At Ryan Howard. A guy who’s managed to hit 220 homers and knock in 635 runs in just five seasons. But Howard, and the rest of the Phillies, didn’t win this past World Series like they did the year before. And so, for that, Howard’s a bum. Just like every other professional athlete in Philadelphia sports’ history who didn’t give their fans the misplaced, instant gratification for which they feel erroneously entitled.

QUOTATION

 This and nothing else is the desperately sought and tragically fragile writer’s process: in his imagination, he sees made-up people doing things–sees clearly–and in the act of wondering what they will do next, he sees what they will do next, and all this he writes down in the best, most accurate words he can find, understanding even as he writes that he may have to find better words later, and that a change in the words may mean a sharpening or deepening of the vision, the fictive dream or vision becoming more and more lucid, until reality, by comparison, seems cold, tedious, and dead.John Gardner

TUNE

I normally have something poignant to say about the song I’m sharing with you. But today I don’t. Listen to “HEERS” by Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. It’s good. And that’s that.

GALLIMAUFRY

→ Listen up, country! The people of Houston get it. So why can’t the rest of you clowns fall in line? Annise Parker will become the city’s first openly gay mayor, making Houston the biggest city ever to do so. Is it safe to say it’s pretty fucked up when Texans are breaking new ground?

Tiger Woods, most likely after reading my post last Friday, has announced, “After much soul searching, I have decided to take an indefinite break from professional golf.” In what many are considering the understatement of a lifetime, Woods furthered with, “I need to focus my attention on being a better husband, father, and person.” You think?

→ OK. Let me get this straight. Donte Stallworth drunkenly drives over, and kills, a guy a few months back and gets 30 fucking days in jail. Meanwhile, New Jersey resident John Wilson is facing up to 20 years for growing 17 marijuana plants for his own personal use to treat his multiple sclerosis. I don’t drink and drive because I’m hesitant to put my life and the lives of others in jeopardy. I do, however, occassionally smoke pot in the privacy of my own home which, until now, seemed relatively innocuous. I guess I had it all backwards and turned upside-down. How naive of me.

06.17.09 – Wednesday

Word: demure [di-myoor] adj. 1. characterized by shyness and modesty; reserved 2. affectedly or coyly decorous, sober, or sedate

Birthday: Edward Longshanks (1239), Igor Stravinsky (1882), M. C. Escher (1898), Newt Gingrich (1943), Barry Manilow (1943), Tommy Franks (1945), George S. Clinton (1947), Joe Piscopo (1951), Jello Biafra (1958), Bobby Farrelly (1958), Thomas Haden Church (1960), Greg Kinnear (1963), Jason Patric (1966), Will Forte (1970), Michael Showalter (1970), Venus Williams (1980)

Quotation: Had the price of looking been blindness, I would have looked.Ralph Ellison

Tune: Check out this cool Sims-like video for “Them Kids” off Love At The End of the World – the new album from Sam Roberts.

Gallimaufry: My friend Beth has started a blog called Operation: Find Beth A Guy. Like most of us who are (or have been) out in the modern dating world, Beth is constantly left wondering, “What the fuck?” The blog details her own journal and some personal thoughts on dating overall. She’s a particularly funny person, so go check it out. I’m not one of those people who think texting is an absolute waste of time. (Anymore.) However, I do think the emerging trend of “Fastest Texter” contests is kind of ridiculous. First, the contests are organized by companies (see LG, Nokia) who’ve got lots to gain from increased text messaging. Second, is being a super-quick texter really something teenagers should aspire to be? I guess it’s no difference than video game tournaments, but still, it sounds kind of messed up. ∞ Donte’ Stallworth, the Cleveland Browns receiver who struck and killed a man while drinking and driving last March, has pled guilty and will now face – wait for it – 30 DAYS IN JAIL. Not 30 years. 30 days. For all of you kids out there who are even remotely competent at catching a football, keep practicing. Because if you get good enough at it, you could get a college scholarship and eventually become a star wide receiver in the NFL. After that, the sky’s the limit. You can literally drive over people in your car and kill them after a night of binge drinking. Doesn’t that sound pretty goddam sweet? You bet your ass it does.

03.17.09 – Tuesday

Whereabouts: Philadelphia, PA

Word: stultify [stuhl-tuh-fahy] verb to make, or cause to appear, foolish or ridiculous

Birthday: Nat King Cole (1919), John Wayne Gacy (1942), Patrick Duffy (1949), Kurt Russell (1951), Gary Sinise (1955), Casey Siemaszko (1961), Rob Lowe (1964), Billy Corgan (1967), Mia Hamm (1972)

Occurrence: 1854 – The rubber band is first patented. Interesting, but I would like to know the first time someone figured out how to wrap it around their hand and point at people like a gun.

Standpoint: In today’s NFL, you’re just not a viable wide receiver until ESPN shows a clip of you getting arrested or questioned by the police. Apparently, it’s a rite of passage. This past Saturday morning, Donte Stallworth struck and killed Juan Sanchez, a man who had just finished his shift. Stallworth has now joined the ranks of Plaxico Burress, Javon Walker, Marvin Harrison and host of other professional wideouts who can’t seem to help but get busted for (or suspected of) criminal acts. Originally, it was reported that charges would not be brought up against the Cleveland Browns player, but now it seems a definite possibility. The most amazing aspect of this current trend of “bad boy” wide receivers is that, for the most part, every one of them is, or has the potential to be, an elite player. Randy Moss. Terry Glenn. Brandon Marshall. Koren Robinson. All great talents. All ended up destroying or diminishing their own careers for participation in events that, to the rest of us, seem completely absurd. The problem is well-documented. This is news to no one. So when does Commissioner Robert Goodell drop the hammer and start kicking these guys out of the league? And when do the teams start sending a real message by not signing these guys, no matter what their level of talent may be? The NFL has become a safe harbor for individuals who continually break the law (see Matt Jones), learn nothing from their actions and have the bank accounts to mount defenses O.J. Simpson would drool over. I’ll take drama-queen Terrell Owens over any of these guys. He may be a big problem in the locker room and a seemingly below-average human being but at least I know when I walk out of work he’s not going to run me over in his Bentley.

Quotation: How do I know what I think until I see what I say?E.M. Forster

Soupçon: The original Greek question mark became the English semicolon (;). I know I keep ripping off A.J. Jacobs but can you really blame me? I maintain a daily blog that includes an interesting fact section and I’m reading a book chronicling a man’s search for knowledge. I’ve just gotten to the “R” chapter of The Know-It-All so I’m almost done ripping it off.

Tune: Besides being great guys, Backyard Tire Fire is an outstanding live band. About a year ago, my brother and I went to The North Star to see The Beautiful Girls. BTF was the opening act and they put on a great show. After their set, I had lost my interest in seeing the main act and spent the rest of the night at the bar with the band. Great night. Check out “Corrine”.

Link: Bag of Songs – Superlative Philadelphia-based blog covering the world of music.

Gallimaufry: Not everyone is hurting during the recession. Condom sales are up due to, among other factors, people staying in more and couples holding off on having a child. Read Amanda Ruggeri’s article “10 Winners in the Recession” from U.S. News & World Report to see who else is prospering…Paste Magazine has made a list of the best independent movie houses in the country. Surprisingly, none of Philadelphia’s made the list…Looks like tough times ahead for Atlantic City, NJ. Casinos are experiencing record losses right now. Hope the Borgata is still there May 23rd when I’m going to see Joel McHale for my birthday. Fingers crossed, people…Hope everyone has a SAFE St. Patrick’s Day. Lots of drinking rookies out there. Be careful and don’t drive.