Quote(s) of the Period of Time I Randomly Choose

You're never as innocent as when you're wronged.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Here's to you, Mr. Logan Airport Officer

So, after picking my sister up at the airport this morning I decided to try a daring maneuver: exiting Logan.

Since the terminals are decently marked, I wasn't overly concerned; yeah, it's Boston, but it's an international airport, it can't be that confusing. Well, I was wrong, as I often am. My first attempt failed as I located the small exit sign too late to cut off the car to my left and was forced instead to continue on toward the next terminal.

Once there, I turned where the sign told all cars to go. Upon turning I found that there were cones blocking this exit of sorts and a car with flashing lights. So, I backed up and followed the buses that were cruising past, and around, this little blockage. It was at this point our main protagonist entered the scene, smelling of coffee and stale doughnuts, ready to make his mark.

Mr. Logan Airport Officer decided that he could use a good flex of authority, so he blew his whistle hard, (insert joke here), and put his right hand up, signaling for us to stop. So we did.

He then waved us on. We stopped next to him and rolled down the window and my sister informed him that, "we were just trying to find the exit." We were still unsure of how to arrive at this departure locale and thought this man, whose salary likely depends on our taxes (though probably not as much as I'd like considering my yearly rate), might be kind enough to offer some insight. However, he was apparently in no such mood. Perhaps he saw some potheads enjoying their lives yesterday at 4:20 p.m. and couldn't arrest them, which ruined his day. Who knows? But, at this point, about 10:10 a.m., he replied, "So backing up was going to help?"

I thought about putting him in his place; after all that's a pretty terrible thing to say, and clearly meanspirited. But, I didn't respond. Neither did my sister. Instead we swallowed that bitter feeling and moved on, eagerly exiting Logan International Airport.

So, Mr. Logan Airport Officer, although I'll likely never see you again, I want to say thank you. Thank you for reminding me how important civility is, and of the abbhorent nature of rudeness. Enjoy the rest of your day, there very well may be others who need a gentle reminder. Let's just hope they're not of Middle Eastern descent, otherwise they may not make it out with merely a scolding, as a very legitimate family found out while simply discussing the design of an airplane the other day.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I Sleep Alone

Her eyes sting as they penetrate me; I cast my glance away, unable to stand our desperate inaction. Words are just an appetizer, I've swallowed them long ago, along with my pride. But conversation is endemic and inevitable in a room crowded with clouded thoughts and rash hopes. So, as we share our already open thoughts, which hang like drapes fastened above window panes quickly wishing the Sun farewell, we fall back into a familiar groove. Only our consciences stave off the transgression of fools.

With touch subdued emotion only seems to grow, washing over me in fits and swells. Deceit and infidelity mark our pasts, but our 'restraint' hardly feels any different. Love is compromise and knowing glances gleaned from across a room of muddled conversation, not desire. An embrace is pure passion, a rash fuck is not. Nonetheless, judgment is the heart's best prophilactic.

And here I am, gently resting upon flat, newly-foreign ground draped in deep red. A visible door reminds me of my place in the pecking order. No wasted tears tonight, for they'll not be seen. I sleep alone.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Hoping for a return of the right

First of all, let’s dispel a common myth. America isn't a democracy. People sometimes call the result of thievery, genocide, assimilation, hard work, ingenuity, manifest destiny, and continual progress by that title, but it's simply not the case. Today, more than ever, America remains a democratic republic. Note the fitting juxtaposition of these two words; it’s democratic republic, not republican democracy. Each word belongs on its respective side, and each remains necessary 232 years in.

After Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats mauled several Republican incumbents and challengers alike, talk of the demise of the Republican Party has surfaced. Many Democrats and moderates fresh off the pleasure of having voted George W. Bush's party out of office around the nation take pleasure in hearing such talk of disarray and infighting within the GOP. But, they are foolish for their glee.

America needs the Republican Party as much as it needs Barack Obama and his promised Change. Failed policies need correcting and an economy receding quicker than Joe Biden’s hairline needs stimulating. Republicans, in the form of George W. Bush and, to a lesser degree, John McCain and Sarah Palin, have shown themselves incapable of doing so at the moment. But, let us quickly forget the folly of the one party nation.

Give Democrats too much power and watch what will happen: just as Republicans did after they followed Newt Gingrich to repeated victories in the mid- to late-'90s, Democrats will falter. Despite what you might hear offhandedly from policy advisers and generals, an acceptable dictator does not exist. And that's what we're staring at right now should the Republican Party fail to find new leadership more in touch with American citizens.

The situation is not as dire as many think, however. Yes, there is a vacuum where party leadership once stood, but after losing an election by a substantiative mark that is no surprise. The people have spoken--old Republican thoughts are not good enough in today's world. But that doesn't mean new Republicans won't rise up to take over that vacated mantle of leadership.

Sarah Palin is not the answer; perhaps lesser known, more modern, moderate Republicans are. The fact that they are unknown shouldn't cause one to fret, either. After all, how many participatory Americans knew much about the Alaskan Governor before John McCain hastily pasted her onto his GOP ticket in late August? As it turns out, even Mr. McCain didn't know much about her either.

So, give Republicans a moment to reorganize. Just as they did following Bill Clinton's run to the White House in 1992, they'll be back. Let’s just hope this time they won't lean so far to the right as to fall over.

America needs them.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Barack Obama. Yes.

By Kevin Scheitrum

‘And although it seems heaven sent
We ain’t ready, to see a black President’
Tupac Shakur, Changes (1995)

Is this the dream fulfilled?

Is this the day, the day when our country’s little children – and their little children and their little children – have been judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their characters? When suddenly what wasn’t even considered a possibility becomes a reality? When we turn our backs on what’s come before and look to the future and understand, reminding ourselves of the failures behind us, that we can all make a difference, that we can form, after all, a more perfect union?

He spoke and we listened and in turn, we spoke louder, together and fully. A generation that never had a voice has suddenly bellowed.

How could we have possibly seen this, even four short years ago? Could we have imagined a black man, even in these times, not only winning this election, but defeating a war hero opponent by a landslide?

On this night, we see ourselves atop one of our history’s highest peaks. Of all of the mythologies that galvanize this great continent, few have enjoyed more staying power than the intertwined ideas of the Melting Pot and infinite opportunity, that this country was founded on diversity and possibility, and all it took to ascend indefinitely was a sharp and shrewd mind and a tireless effort.

But before tonight, those allegories have been nothing but words and simple fantasies, tethered to the sad fragments of our past, dark and damning ghosts like Jim Crow, the notion of three-fifths, the bullet inside Martin Luther King, Jr. Over time, the increase of blacks in the workforce and the influx of blacks with college degrees chipped away at racism, while the integration of sports and the importance of blacks in music, from blues to hip-hop sanded more of it away.

But then the Fortune 500 would come out, and as of 2006, blacks occupied only four of the CEO spots. At the end of the same year, median household income for whites stood at $50,673; for blacks, it was $31,969. The stats go on and on, and yes, stats only tell part of the story, but the most glaring message behind these statistics is that, outside of the thin avenues of entertainment and athletics, blacks rose to prominence in so few ways. Terribly few ways.

That mythology of equality, of all men being created equal, had such little resonance under the harsh glare of these facts. Tonight, that idea has roots. Tonight, it is no longer mere floating, hollow words, the preserve of rhetoricians.

We’d be fools to assume that this will change everything. But we’d be missing out on the moment if we don’t think that we just witnessed a moment that will irrevocably change the course of American life.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

McCain's aLive in New York

Check out John McCain's appearance on SNL with "Sarah Palin" at his side. The act has an air of defeat, and Senator McCain sounds an awful lot like Bob Dole did after election night in 1996.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Town Chained to Itself

By Kevin Scheitrum

The fine and educated people employed at the Philadelphia Art Museum tolerate the runners, the daily thousands who, for some reason or another, are in Philadelphia and because they’re in Philadelphia, succumb to the compulsion to sprint up the Museum’s steps and turn around, staring down into the core of Philly, jump in the air, hands shot skyward, and yell ‘Adrian.’

It’s either a pity or a triumph – much like the city itself – that the most famous sculpture at the Philadelphia Museum of Art is outside of it. At the base of those famous steps, hidden often in shadow, it stands eight feet, six inches tall, and is more than two millenia younger than its bronze brethren inside. It’s the statue of Rocky, Stallone’s character, the character that’s come to represent, for good and for bad, the Philadelphia identity, the Philadelphia spirit.

And in a time when the nation’s turning its eyes to Philly for reasons other than its position as the ugliest city in America, we see just how pitch-perfect and, thus tragic, Stallone’s distillation of the Philadelphia soul was, and we wonder, if the Phillies do manage to break the curse tonight, will Rocky still ring as true? Without a curse to symbolize the role of underdogs, must Philadelphians start to re-define themselves?

Rocky meant, and means, so much to Philadelphia because of its essential compression of the pain of being Philadelphian. Inside the Stallion’s steel jaw and widowmaking blows were packed the accumulated suffering and disenfranchisement and down-and-out futility of living in a city that’s done nothing but crumbled over the past half-century, a city of perpetual underdogs.

Philadelphia’s poet would never be a writer; it would have to be a fighter, the tragic figure of American sports, a colossal rat in a maze whose successes are momentarily cheered and then forgotten as he gives his brain, his humanity, his life to the crowd.

Rocky gave Philadelphians a way out of this decay, a ticket from South Philly to center stage at Caesar’s. It was the Springsteen story, the one where getting out is all that matters and as long as you can keep pushing back the sunrise, you’ll be ok. More, it was the Alger rags-to-riches, up-by-your-bootstraps, American Dream story, which has become the most dangerous allegory in our time, as it postulates a virtual impossibility yet implies falling short of The Dream is unforgivable, a mark of weakness and inferiority.

Most dangerously, Rocky told its audiences that all you had to do was work hard, work harder, and one day you’ll be there – an idea that, painfully, no longer has resonance. Nowadays, having guts just isn’t enough.

But what Rocky captured above all and, in turn, perpetuated, is the all-consuming acceptance in Philadelphia of the underdog mentality, the stoic acceptance of a difficult, disappointing fate that manifests in crude hatred. Of other regions. Of other people. Of themselves. Those axes-to-grind sublimate into booing and cursing and fighting fans – sports, of course, offer an easy black-and-white crystallization of a greater phenomenon: Boston vs. Philly, per se, is a gimme, with Ivory Tower vs. Row Home – the same fans who dump nacho cheese and beer on kids without hesitation.

But a city of underdogs also manifests itself in a lack of civic progress, a crime rate that hastens every year and a sad, sad sense among people in the city that they are not, and won’t ever, be destined for greatness.

“Nothing ever gets done here – nothing ever gets better,” said our cab driver, bringing us to West Philly after going out in Center City after Game 4 of the World Series. “It’s that god-damned underdog mentality.”

Playing the role of underdog is at once empowering and devastating. At first, it unites against a common enemy, the single greatest agent of cohesion in a group. It’s easy to hate yourself less if you can project that anger somewhere else, say, Mets fans or Apollo Creed. Underdog status.

But at the core of an underdog is the quiet, unspoken acceptance that you’re not quite worthy of where you are – which, of course, makes doing things like playing in the World Series seem like you’re stealing a car. As an underdog, you understand that you don’t belong at the cool kids’ table. So you act out.

There’s a scene in Dostoyevsky’s Notes From Underground in which unnamed the main character attends a party in honor of an old classmate, a soul generally beloved by all but, of course, despised by The Underground Man. At the table, the other guests, who had begrudgingly invited him, attempt to lavish praise on the guest of honor, Zverkov. The Underground Man, his hatred rising up in him like hot tar, lashes out at everyone, holding them all accountable for society’s failures and positioning them as symbols, acting brutally on the occasion of celebration.

Dostoyevsky uses this character for a multitude of reasons, of course, but the two reasons most applicable here are to reveal the unspoken madness inherent in a society (polite conversation being one of them) and to illustrate – and possibly warn against – the danger of inertia, ennui¸ on the part of those kept underground.

This last point is the one our cabbie referred to. Her example was how she couldn’t make a living because, in Philly cabs, it takes 5-6 days to receive the money owed a cabbie from a credit card transaction in the cab, and how, despite her efforts to galvanize support, she found nothing but resignation and a brick wall. She was livid at how few people would wrap their heads around this cause – New York cabs, for example, don’t have this truly absurd problem – and just how impenetrable the fortress of bureaucracy, within which the Powers That Be squash ideas daily, is.

It’s so sad to see these people, these good, hard-working people that are referred to by politicians as The Backbone of America or The Salt of the Earth or America’s Soul or any other trite, condescending term, feel trapped. You see them ending up, like Springsteen said, like a dog that’s been beat too much. And after a while, they just give up. New Yorkers, Bostonians, Chicagans demand progress. Philadelphians demand paychecks, because they don’t have much of a choice. No one fights for them – they’ve stopped fighting for themselves – so they just push on, basking in the reflected light of the underdog.

That’s the saddest part: underdogs are complicit in chaining themselves to mediocrity and dereliction. Considering one’s self as an underdog means feeling uncomfortable when one is not an underdog. Imagine a runner taking a 10-meter lead in the 400-meter dash. Now see him lose sight of the finish line and start looking over his shoulder, veering around the track. See him slowly lag, as everyone overtakes him – and see him cross the finish line with a smile.

It’s a great feeling, yes, in sports, to knock off a juggernaut – ask the Giants from last year. But when that feeling, so powerful in context, seeps into culture, it rips apart a town.

It spawns problems like abandoned youth sports programs, underfunded and nearly useless after-school programs, never-filled pot holes, gun collection programs that rise and fall in the time it takes to empty a clip, politicians who are more concerned with just keeping their jobs than the well-being of those they represent and the certainty among those they represent that these goddamned politicians aren’t gonna do anything anyway so I better scrape together anything I can to get by because we’ll be up a creek soon no doubt, and low voter turnout, ensuring those eunuch politicians get a free ride into office for the next term, until you see a town that’s famous for its murals and its crime and nothing else, because what else is there? When there’s no vision, there’s no progress. That’s the curse of the underdog. You never see beyond the next game, the next obstacle. You, from the first day of your life, have been sold short, and you will, for the rest of your life, continue to do so, reveling in infrequent, modest success.

Rocky told its audience they’d be liberated by perseverance, and in the years after the War, that was true. It’s a pretty idea, the supremacy of hard work, and one that levels the playing field – you don’t need to be big or brilliant to work hard. And people believed it, just like they have since their parents told them that that was the only way to get anywhere, believing always in the criminal fable of the Big Break, as powerful as religion.

But as the century wore on, hard work lost its capacity for elevation. Those jobs on the assembly lines, the ones that created a thick, hearty middle class, have gone abroad. Those that haven’t sure as hell aren’t in Philadelphia, just as they’re not in Newark or Peabody, Mass. Hard work requires getting a big break. But no promoter for no heavyweight champion boxer is going to be paging through the Philly phone book any time soon. And without that break – or an education, or a vision for something greater – all that hard work does is dig a deeper hole.

And even though Philadelphians did realize that no promoter would be dialing ‘215,’ Rocky became more than a fictional story. It became an allegory.

He symbolized everything Philadelphia wanted to be, and he stood, unfalling in the face of everything afflicting the city. Each blow delivered to Philly during America’s transition from a country of industry to a country of lawyers and waiters found its articulation in the fists of Apollo Creed.

Boom. Take away our jobs. Left jab. Boom, right body shot as the kids start dropping out of school at record numbers because the schools can’t afford to teach them or hold them and then take refuge in drugs. Bam, left hook – a haymaker this time – as the welfare state fails and they re-zone neighborhoods and kick people out onto the streets.

Rocky could withstand those punches, and his fighting style was no arbitrary point. He would stand, teetering like a tree in a storm, absorbing everything until he finally fought back and won. Philadelphia was to be the same – it was to swallow those reverberating blows and then, finally, fight back and deliver the winning shot.

But now, we see a town content with absorbing those blows. We see a town of sparring partners, of good, strong and capable people who could have been contenders.

And we see a town, just like every town that’s had its heart ripped out, full of people who believe in the same myth that’s kept other good, strong and capable Americans down: that if you just put in an extra hour on the line, if you just get by, your break will come.

And tonight, in Game 5 of the World Series, if the Phillies do indeed win, this town needs to re-define itself. Nothing so pulls Philadelphians together as their baseball team, not even their football team. And if their baseball team can patch together something beautiful, something better than anyone else did this year – something that hasn’t happened in Philadelphia since 1983, a combined 100 seasons between the four major sports – maybe they can get the courage to do the same.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Fall Classic

The first post by Kevin Scheitrum.

What one of my favorite baseball bloggers, a Mr. Tim Malcolm of philliesnation.com, remembers most from the 1993 World Series isn’t the crowd fizzing in Veterans Stadium, or the way the runs were scored or the atmospheric rip of a bat connecting with a ball on a late October night.

What he remembers most, as he writes in the blog, is the bunting (not the offensive strategy) – the flags draped from the rafters all around the stadium, dressing the game with the aura of regality.

We lost that year – we lose every year – but the sense still lingered in Malcolm and the scores of the kids who gave their lives to baseball that year (myself included) that they’d been part of something bigger, a chapter in the ever-changing novel of American existence.

I can’t ever imagine feeling the way with the Super Bowl, the grand and almost invariably disappointing culmination of the American machismo, compared to the World Series’ culmination of the American soul. If the Series has an air of royalty, the Super Bowl has an air of carnival, with everything ballooned up to epic, almost cartoonlike proportions, providing you with the sense that you’re part of something prefabricated. For all of the innocence that baseball has given up, it still remains the main attraction at its own event; it stands for itself. For all the ground it’s lost to football in terms of popularity, baseball can still boast the certainty that it’s a bigger deal to win the World Series than it is to win the Super Bowl.

First, there’s the link to history. World Series champs are tied to all who came before. And in terms of history, there’s no comparison here. Winning the World Series puts a team in the company of the 1927 Yankees or the 1906 Cubs, whereas winning the Super Bowl puts a team in the company of, at best, Lombardi’s Packers or the 1972 Dolphins. But you know who Lou Gehrig is, you know who Babe Ruth is and you might even know who Tony Lazzeri is. Who, exactly, (without checking Wikipedia) did Bart Starr throw his passes to?

Baseball is woven into the American existence in a way that football may never be. The best football players are celebrities. The best baseball players, even now, are heroes.

Second, there’s the basic requirement of consistency. To win the World Series, you have to win often. To win the Super Bowl, you have to win once. And while, yes, those stakes mean that the Super Bowl has greater ramifications than any individual WS game, save Game 7, they also ensure that more often than not, we’re left with a wretch of a game purported to be the sport’s pinnacle. With the Series, you have to string together performance after performance; no series comes down to a fluke, not even Buckner in ’86. A city seethes one night and rejoices the next, undulations of emotion that are, at the most generous, compressed for the Bowl.

Psychologically, the Series represents, above all, the end of summer. With it go our long, warm nights and our barbecues, our summer flings and our conversations that run on until morning, our softness of being and our tanned skin. Baseball keeps us young – when it ends, we roll back into adulthood. When the Super Bowl ends, we wait for baseball.

The Super Bowl represents, above all, unabashed commercialism.

The event has been so stuffed with hyperbole that it’s actually reduced the game itself. The sideshows – the commercials, the halftime show (and the nipples involved), Media Day, gambling, the Puppy Bowl – have overshadowed the main act, like bringing in the Stones to open up for MGMT. Save last year and a few other anomalies, the games themselves have done little to warrant anything more than their relegation to secondary status. They play merely the role of host.

It’s along the lines of an entourage, where a cluster of clingers-on get their one chance to shine because of the prominence of one central figure. The same thing goes on whenever a Wal-Mart drops on a town, as a Cold Stone, a Quizno’s and a dry cleaner’s aren’t far behind. Thousands of events crop up in the week before; supermarkets start stocking more queso dip and advertising products for the Perfect Super Bowl Party, and so on.

With the World Series, the games happen so often – most importantly, plurally – that they remain the story. A series produces myriad subplots, like acts in a play. Here, we see Curt Schilling’s bloody sock and a comeback from down 3-0 in a series, or Josh Beckett and the rest of his overmatched pitching staff in Marlins teal out-dueling a Yankees lineup that pelted balls off the Yankee Stadium façade all year. A one-game event doesn’t have that luxury. So, the media and other profiteers are forced to create them. See: Namath, Joe and his prediction; or Peyton finally getting over the hump and winning a championship (the hard and fast media barometer for athletic success, providing Trent Dilfer the ability to flip off Dan Marino at NFL alumni cocktail parties).

So what it all comes down to, for the Super Bowl that is, is foreplay and then no follow-through.

And it’s not that hype doesn’t exist in baseball. It’s that whereas the Super Bowl has 5,000 people instructed to dance around the stage during the halftime show and mouth the words to the song, baseball has bunting.

The games take care of the rest.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Link Lockdown

  • Barack Obama and John McCain spoke a couple nights ago at an annual charity event in New York City. They were funny. Watch McCain first, then Obama. Refreshing to see them act more like the guys we had grown accustomed to before this loooooooong campaign. Also, the MSNBC.com politics page has some other great videos on it, spend some perusal time.
  • When the Boston Red Sox came back from down 7-0 with two outs in the bottom of the 7th the other night against the Tampa Bay Rays, I remembered why I watch. We spend our time and money hoping special athletes who may or may not be special people (and trust me, several of your favorite players are far from that) will give us the feeling that used to overtake us when we were young. That's what sports is all about--the reclamation of our youthful exuberance. Well, at 12:16 am on October 17th I felt the way I did in 2003 when Derek Lowe threw the greatest two-seam fastball I had ever seen to an unsuspecting Terence Long and followed up his initial wrist action with another, the second of the DX variety toward the Oakland dugout. After J.D. Drew hit a line drive that sailed over the head of Tampa Bay's Gabe Gross, silent screams in the depth of night mixed with leaps of immeasurable height had me feeling 17 again.
  • Barack Obama is planning on buying a half-hour television spot before the start of Game 6 of the World Series. Yes, he's going to talk for 30 freakin' minutes. 30. I can't possibly see the rationale of speaking for that long when the public is growing tired of the longest campaign in history. Not only is he quite possibly going to turn off a few voters simply because they're sick of hearing him, but he's delaying the start of Game 6 for 15 minutes by doing so, further preventing America's youth from forming a love lockdown with the greatest game. Education plans aside, does Barack truly care about the kids? You know John McCain would never do something like this, if only because he'd be scared he might not be able to stay up late enough to watch it live. No matter, however, since the likelihood of the Philadelphia Phillies (what a creative moniker, by the way), the champions of AAAA, extending the series that far against either the Red Sox or Rays is almost nil.
  • PS--I currently sit at 466th overal in unique page views vis-a-vis raking in a gargantuan total of 6 per day at Today.com, the host for The Sports Beat, so please give it a read if you like what you've seen here.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Tribute to My Idol: Jack Falla

Before my maternal grandfather passed away this past spring and kindly left me his white 2000 Ford Ranger XLT, making it to the one class I couldn't afford to miss in college was a bit of a costly propostion.

Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8:00 am I attended sports journalism, JO514, with the late, great Jack Falla.

Let me emphasize that starting time once again: 8:00 am.

Now, once you've graduated and grown accustomed to working, 8:00 am is no big deal. It's life. But back in college, 8:00 am is impossible for many, and an epic struggle for the rest. I was a struggler--I had painted for portions of the four summers prior to my enrolling in Monsieur Falla's lecture on sports, professionalism, and life, so it was a challenge I was ready for; however, my roommate, the owner of the type of car that repels girls like Off!, a silver Honda Civic Hatchback, was another story.

Julian Rodriguez is not a light sleeper.

Yours truly, Sean, a current roommate (at the time), and Greg, a former roommate, all depended on Julian twice a week to transport us in the early hours of dawn, or sometimes pre-dawn depending on the Sun's mood, down Commonwealth Avenue to the earliest classes BU offered. Needless to say, Boston's sub-freezing winter weather made Julian's ability to drive even more important. The roughly two miles to the warmth of the classroom from the comfort of a rumpled bed cemented Julian's role as our proverbial hockey father.

Despite both bearing the responsibility of ushering adolescents to early morning skates, Julian Rodriguez and Jack Falla were cut from a different mold.

Julian and his fellow engineers, Sean and Greg, with cushy jobs in hand and impressive degrees on the way, could be late. My much less impressive résumé and standard awkward silence response when asked about my "career path" dictated otherwise.

Thus, my winter mornings became routine. Sean, our roommate, would awake first, jumping in the shower at roughly 7:00 am. Following his exit from our grimy cleaning area I would ascertain my options. First, to scrub or not to scrub? In this election the shower beat my black-on-black adjustable Boston Red Sox hat, but with just 52% of the vote. Next, breakfast. Eggs, a bagel and cream cheese, or leftover pasta and ground beef from one of Sean's cooking binges would invariably win out. Time was of the essence after all, heartburn be damned. Sean's offerings often won that primary.

During my coffeeless attempts at waking up (I haven't picked up that bad habit yet, unlike the overuse of parentheses) Sean and I took turns shaking our chauffeur from his gentle slumber.

We followed a tried-and-true recipe of banging on Julian's door, explaining the situation in simple terms--"Julian, get up, we're gonna be late."--and eventually, guilt trips.

"Jules, I can't be late, if you didn't want to go to class you could've told me last night, but now it's too late," I would say flinging all my moral indignation at poor, tired Julian. "You gotta get up..."

No response.

"Now," I would sometimes add for good measure.

Moments later, as I neared my breaking point, usually around 7:47 am, Julian would emerge from his room ready to go. Often his trip would merely be to drop me and perhaps Sean and Greg off before returning to bed, but that was less certain. No matter, his ass had better get mine to class on time, that was for sure. A trip to Brookline to pick up Greg, which prominently featured Comm Ave. and Babcock Street's awkward stoplight spending time like Paris Hilton spends money on glitter, would set us back another 7 to 10 minutes. It was now crunch time.

Arriving in front of BU's School of Communication anywhere from 7:56 to 7:59:38, the race was on. Many days, it would literally be a race to the finish.

Now, my legs are naturally about as fast as Hal Gill's. I probably can sprint a 5.0+ 40-yard-dash and I almost never run at all. Furthermore, around this time I found that I had a degenerative disc bulge in my lower back, so I was in far from peak physical condition, with reverse motivation to boot. On top of my back serving as a convenient excuse not to exercise, I play the one position in team sports that requires almost NO extraneous movement. So much so that Curt Schilling famously aided the New York Yankees in their epic 2004 ALCS choke job on a bleeding ankle that necessitated groundbreaking surgery involving a cadaver's ligaments.

Yup, I'm a pitcher. I don't/can't hit depending upon whom you ask. Despite a love of hustle on the ball field I often hypocritically walk to and from the mound. To maintain my footing, and sometimes just to minimize unnecessary steps to the side and back again, I occasionally switch from the wind-up to the stretch despite there being no one on (and then quickly because there is someone, or multiple someones, on base).

I am not a runner.

But when I had to beat Professor Falla up the stairs, I ran like Usain Bolt. Obstacles like concrete dividers standing four feet high were minor hindrances, stairs meant to be scaled in two or three bounds at most, and doorjambs pylons worth leaping over just before my opponent could tackle me at the goal line. In arriving in this fashion, you can bet there were several awkward entrances inches and seconds in front of the greatest teacher ever to grace the halls of Boston University's School of Communication with the suaveness of Evan from Superbad. No matter, I made it. Every time.

That's how you show you care. Make it. On time. Every time. No excuses.

"The only excuse to miss class is a death in the family," Falla often told us, relaying a line a professor from his undergrad days at BU had thrown his way. "And I'd prefer it be yours."

Well, on September 14th, 2008, a member of the family died.

I left one of my three jobs a few minutes early to make it to my idol's wake three days later at the Doherty Funeral Home in Wellesley. Falla stringently insisted on promptness and putting in all necessary work, but he did have a penchant for leaving early to beat the traffic, so I figured he'd let me off the hook for that one. Reuniting with friends who had taken Falla's class, or classes if they were lucky, we read the eulogy that the church wouldn't allow his son Brian to deliver, looked at pictures from earlier days, and said goodbye. Jack's body lay motionless next to his family; meanwhile the loves of his life, his wife, Barb, and his grown children, Brian and Tracey, stood graciously accepting endless sympathies a mere few feet from his side.

The next morning, I got up early. Jack Falla would be laid to rest in a matter of hours, but I wouldn't be at St. Patrick's in Natick that day. My peace made, I wouldn't watch dirt fly through the air. Instead I got into my Ford Ranger, which still ran despite sustaining a bump or two since my grandfather left it to me halfway through my final semester at BU, and headed to Fenway Park to work as a media relations assistant for the Boston Red Sox--a job, naturally, Jack had gotten me.

My shift would start at 9:00 am. Unlike my 7:59:59 am arrivals in February, I would be there a few minutes early that morning. I no longer had what it took to make it to my desk like a puck careening toward an open pocket of netting before the green light went on.

On that sad Thursday a certain spring in my step was lost forever.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Panic on the Street!

I guess we can stop pretending there's no recession now, huh?

The Dow just fell to under 8,600. That's freakin' low. We're talking lower than a contortionist can limbo. Lower than attendance at a Marlins-Braves game. Lower than George Bush's approval ratings--that low. Just a year ago we were above 14,000.

Trapped under the falling pillars of capitalism and the trampling of cash-grabbing pandemonium, what should we do?


The shit's hit the fan; someone must clean it up. I'm investing my money in antiseptics. Oh, and batteries, but that's another story.

The irony in all of this is now's the best time to get your money in the Dow. Well, perhaps in a week or so, but once this bailout comes, the arrival of which has been about as quick as Sarah Palin, the market should stabilize. I'm not saying it'll instantly trend upward and get back into the quintuple digits, but it'll stop dropping 500 points daily.

Here's where you step in and provide a little piece of mind for the poor, scared shmucks stuffing their few firesale dollars into cold glass jars in the refrigerator and rolled-up wads under the bed.

This is a recession, not a depression...yet. In a twisted twist, it's not the goverment who will prevent a full-scale depression, it'll be investors like you and me. (OK, and Warren Buffet.)

Read (I was going to write "listen" or "look" but you can't do either since I'm just typing), Mondays always suck, but at this point I doubt Columbus Day will be that dark, even in Palin's backyard. So, please don't follow suit and panic like it's 1929.

I don't have any money to put in the freezer yet and my pantry's almost breadless.