Why Sports Matter

October 13, 1960.

Just over 59 years ago.  Some of you know the significance of that date.  Most of you don’t.  But that was a big day.

Here’s why.

In America, we have many people who insist that we, as a society, place too much emphasis on sports.  This skewed emphasis means we willfully allow sports to play an unjustified and outsized role in our culture.  Whether it’s 10U softball, paid coaches for youth soccer, or high school football, they all seem to be higher up on the ladder of importance than say…math, science or English.  Actually, the way public schools are teaching English right now is a rant for another day because they SUCK at it worse than Hans Gruber sucks at eliminating barefoot rogue New York cops in the Nakatomi Building.  Regardless of my feelings on the lack of vocabulary building and English usage instruction, we are told sports are just a game and we need to keep sports in perspective.  It is okay to be disappointed if your team loses, but it can’t define your outlook.  It can’t define who you are.  If your team loses Game 7 of the World Series, it isn’t the end of the world.

Unless, of course, if it is.

October 13, 1960.  Thursday.  Pittsburgh, PA.  Forbes Field.  Temps in the low 70’s.  3:36 p.m.

Just a mere 2 1/2 weeks earlier the country had watched the famous Kennedy-Nixon debate which ushered in the power of television in presidential elections.  The third Kennedy-Nixon debate would take place on the evening of the 13th.  On October 3rd, the Andy Griffith Show was televised for the first time.  And the day before, on Oct. 12th, Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev pounded his shoe on the table during a meeting at the U.N. marking the first time a communist/socialist nutjob threw a tantrum when he heard something he didn’t like.  That last part is just conjecture on my part…

PittsburghcathedraldowntownForbes Field wasn’t located in downtown Pittsburgh where most of us remember Three River Stadium and where PNC Park and Heinz Field currently sit.  It was located on the southern part of the University of Pittsburgh on Schenley Drive.  In the above pic, look at that tower near the bottom left.  That’s the Cathedral of Learning at Pitt.  Forbes Field was right next to it on the left.  Today the campus library and some dorms sit on the site.  Interestingly, Babe Ruth played his last game in Forbes Field where he also hit his last three home runs cementing a spot in baseball history.

Ralph Terry pitched in the majors for 12 seasons.  He was even the MVP of the 1962 World Series.  He was a big 6-3 dude from Big Cabin, OK.  In 1960 he started 23 games for the Yankees.  He wore #23.  On Oct. 13, 1960 he was on the mound in the bottom of the ninth as the Yankees fifth pitcher of the day.

Bill Mazeroski was born in Wheeling WV and went to high school in Tiltonsville OH, both of which are within 60 miles of Pittsburgh.  In 1960, he hit .273 with 11 homers.  He wore #9.  In 2001, he was selected for the Baseball Hall of Fame.  On this particular Thursday afternoon he was hitting in the 8 spot for the hometown Pirates but, as the baseball gods would have it, he was leading off the bottom of the ninth.

Center field in Forbes Field had a lot of real estate.  408 feet to right center, 435 to dead center and 406 to left center.  406 FT is still painted on the brick outfield wall as it was in 1960.  The wall has been relocated and restored and sits outside PNC Park in Pittsburgh.  Oh, and the wall was 18 feet high.

The Pirates had just scored 5 dramatic runs in the bottom of the 8th to take a 9-7 lead.  Back-up catcher Hal Smith smoked a two-strike pitch into the seats for a three run homer to take the lead.  But Hal Smith isn’t the reason for this story.  Why?  Because the Yankees scored 2 in the top of the ninth to tie the game.

Ralph Terry only threw two pitches to Mazeroski that particular Thursday.  The first was a ball.  The second was deposited over that 406 FT sign in left center.  He hit the ball hard enough to clear an 18 foot wall 406 feet from home plate.  It was a bomb.  It was also the first Game 7 walk off homer to win a World Series.  The Pirates won their first World Series in 35 years.  The Yankees were going for their 8th in 12.

So sports fans did what sports fan do when they win a championship.  They partied.  A lot.  If you go back and read media accounts for the day, everything from firecrackers to air raid sirens to confetti filled the scene around downtown.  The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote: “The bedlam – and there is no other way to describe the scene downtown after the game-, continued on and on and on into the night.”

Life Magazine wrote: “For the next 12 hours, Pittsburgh seethed in celebration for the team that should have lost but wouldn’t. The people felt an uncontrollable urge to let go – and loud. Automobile horns began a non-stop honking and attics were ransacked for whistles, tubas, and Halloween noisemakers. The hordes converged on downtown Pittsburgh where paper hurled from office windows had bogged down trolley cars…By 9.pm. that evening, bridges and tunnels leading into the city had been closed, and downtown hotels were barring those without a room key from entering their lobbies.

Prior to that 9 p.m. hotel lobby ban, a certain 19 year old was working in the accounting department at Joseph Horne’s.  Horne’s was a department store in downtown Pittsburgh.  The 19 year-old and his five co-workers were listening to the game on the radio.  As people poured into downtown, on that warm fall afternoon, they did what 19 year-olds do.  They joined the party before running into some girls in front of the Pittsburgh Hilton which was only a short distance from Horne’s.  Turns out one of the guys he worked with knew one of the girls.  They both went to Duquesne University and she had some friends with her.  As fate would have it, they started to pair up and that 19 year-old found himself with a certain 18 year-old Duquesne student.  They were last ones left.

streetcarpittsburghThey decided to get something to eat but the 19 year-old only had fare for the streetcar.  If don’t know what a streetcar is go google Pittsburgh streetcars.  Anyway with only enough money for the streetcar he was in a bit of a predicament.  But he ran into his brother and cousin and borrowed $5 from them.  They ate, enjoyed the post-game celebration and eventually he walked the 18 year-old back to her dorm.  Since he spent all his money on this girl – as dudes are apt to do – he had to walk home.  The way he tells it is that it was quite the haul. And having spent a little bit time in Pittsburgh, the boy ain’t lying.

A week later he asked for a date.  She said yes.

Almost ten years after that I was born.

That 19 year-old was my Dad.  And that 18 year-old was my Mom.  My Dad worked with a dude who went to Duquesne.  That guy happened to know a girl in front of the Hilton which happened to be only a short distance from where they worked.  The math worked out allowing everybody to pair up.  My Dad and Mom were evidently so unimpressed with everyone else, they were the last two.  My Dad ran into his brother and cousin who had enough money to lend him so he could spend some time with this girl he just met.

But if Bill Mazeroski doesn’t hit the second pitch from Ralph Terry over the 406 FT sign in Forbes Field on that warm Thursday afternoon in October of 1960, I’m not telling you this story.

So when somebody tells me that sports don’t really matter, I usually smile politely and refrain from engaging in that discussion.  Because the bottom line is…well…they’re full of shit.

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Things You Learn at Conferences

What is the easiest part of high school?  Seriously.  What is it?  For me it was probably developing an overabundance of unearned confidence.  But when you’re 17 and rocking the Reeboks and Levi’s jacket, its tough not to be cool.

Now I realize that high school was awesome for some people and horrible for others.  We all have our own story to tell…unless you’re Elizabeth Warren in which case you have a multitude of stories to tell depending upon which Democratic Primary voters on the intersectionality scale you hope to woo.  Weird how manufactured victimhood has become a lot like an exclusive country club in which only the most victimized are admitted.  But I’m just a simple midwestern Gen-X Dad who likes football and hair metal.  I’m sure I’m just not cultured enough to understand.  Anyway, easiest part of high school was what?

Senior year?  Good guess but my feeling is that it was more awesome than easy.  Lunch?  Maybe but then again I ate pizza every single day for 4 years.  Gym class?  Nope.  I had gym 1st hour freshman year and it sucked.  S-U-C-K-E-D…sucked!

Turning in your assignments.  That’s the easiest part.  You might be scoffing at that because you fought your way through geometry and Spanish and it was the opposite of easy.  But that’s not what I’m talking about.  I completely agree that some of those classes weren’t easy and doing the work was difficult.  But how hard is it to turn in your work after you’ve completed it?  I mean the actual act of turning it in.  Not doing the work.  The simple physical process of handing your teacher a piece of paper.  The simple process clicking on the attachment icon to place your already completed work into an email and then clicking the send button.

It is evidently harder for our sophomore to do that than it is for the NFL to figure out what in the hell constitutes pass interference.  C’mon Goodell, how in the hell do you keep getting worse at your job?  Recently, we had conferences at the high school.  Conferences consist of all the teachers sitting at tables located throughout the building in the hallways, cafeteria and library.  The parents drop by for 5 minute talks to get an update on what the hell their kids are actually doing in class.  I was initially skeptical of this process but it turns out it is really not so bad.  I mean aside from those parents who spend 20 minutes quizzing the teacher why their kid is getting an A- instead of an A.  Geez, people, just take the win…

But our kid seems to be honing a different and distinct skill.  The art of completing all your homework and other assignments on time but then just not turning them in.  It’s kinda like going 17-0 through the regular season and playoffs and losing the Super Bowl.  You gotta finish.  So when we went into the conferences last week, school had been going on for about 6 weeks.  As we moved from teacher to teacher a pattern developed.  The sophomore was doing well in all her classes.  All her teachers enjoyed having her in class.  But they were all a bit frustrated that she had so many missing assignments.  How many you ask?  She had 10 missing assignments.  Ten in six weeks.

Who in the hell does the work but doesn’t turn it in?  Who does the work but doesn’t care if they have anything to show for it?  I mean besides Adam Schiff.  I mean its not like she’s enjoying geometry.  If she’s going to do the work, she might as well get credit for it!  Nope.  Not the sophomore.

“Hey kiddo are you turning in your assignments at school?”

“Yes.  Why?”

“Because we just got back from conferences and you’re missing ten assignments.”

“Wait, what?  I’ve done all of them.  Everything.  I’m not behind in any of my classes.”

“Fair enough, but have you actually turned in the assignments?”

“What do you mean?”

“Have you transferred physical ownership of the assignments from yourself to your teachers?”

“Ah, I see where your going here.”

Turns out she really is doing just fine in all her classes but she evidently wants to keep that a secret from her teachers.  Bold strategy.  We’ll see how it works out for her…

 

More Thoughts On California

Here’s a few more details on our trip to the left coast.

On Wednesday, after deciding that I really didn’t need to see Once Upon A Time In Hollywood for a second time in two days – despite it’s obvious awesomeness –  I decided to head back to Erik’s Deli for lunch before driving the 10ish minutes down the highway to Santa Cruz.  Never been to Santa Cruz so I thought I’d take a look around.  As I mentioned in my previous post,  I didn’t have a lot to do while Mom was at her conference.

So here’s the thing about Erik’s Deli.  They evidently only serve one sandwich.  Oh, they have an entire menu of sandwiches.  Cold ones, warm ones.  Veggie sandwiches and various wraps.  But regardless of what you order, you get one sandwich.  Here’s the deal, Tuesday I ordered a sandwich called the Farmer’s Market.  It’s a veggie extravaganza.  It’s ingredients include 9-grain bread piled high with avocado, sunflower seeds, sliced pickles, mushrooms, grated carrots, red bell pepper, onions, tomato, clover sprouts, lettuce and Erik’s sweet hot mustard.  What I actually ate was a sandwich on 9-grain bread with avocado, turkey breast, Swiss cheese, red bell pepper, onions, tomato, clover sprouts and Erik’s sweet hot mustard.

But it was so good I didn’t complain.  Plus I don’t know the rules about complaining in California and I was afraid there was some state law about offending the sandwich artist’s sensibilities which would get me sent to Progressive Re-Education Camp.

Since I’m a staunch supporter of consistency, I went back on Wednesday.  This time I ordered a sandwich called the Sweet Liberty.  It consists of turkey breast, Swiss cheese, red bell pepper, onions, tomato, clover sprouts and Erik’s sweet hot mustard on hearty 9-grain bread.  Eerily similar to what I ate on Tuesday except it didn’t included the added Tuesday bonus of avocados.

What I ate was exactly the same sandwich I ate Tuesday.

So next time you’re in Scott’s Valley, remember, it doesn’t matter what you order at Erik’s, you’re getting turkey and avocados on everything.

With my new addiction to avocados taking hold, I drove down to Santa Cruz and sorta tooled around downtown a bit before stopping at a Patagonia Outlet and then at the local library to write a blog post and read my book about how Gen X needs to save America from millennials.  Because, well, we do.

Anyway, here’s what I noticed – downtown Santa Cruz is kinda crappy.  They clearly are in the midst of revitalizing parts of it but I’m not sure that’s gonna matter.  Why?  Homeless.  I don’t know how or why Californians put up with this.  As I was in the library at least three dudes wandered around loudly talking jibberish or some kind previously unheard language.  One dude, who wasn’t talking at all, but looked like an out of work extra from a surfer movie, sat down at the table next to me.  Put both hands flat on the table in front of him and sat there nearly motionless for the 30-40 minutes.  Wasn’t weird at all.

When I left to go pick up Mom back in Scott’s Valley – which, by the way, didn’t have any homeless people that I noticed – I had to walk out the front door and into a loosely congregated group of about 20-30 homeless people.  I was happy my car was parked in a lot off to the side so I was able to take a quick left turn and avoid the panhandling.  Don’t really have any thoughts on this other than most of these people don’t appear to be playing with a full deck.  Either they have some mental health issues and/or they’re really into amateur self-administered chemistry.

Geez, California, get your sh*t together.

I grabbed Mom and we headed over to Capitola, which after experiencing downtown Santa Cruz, is evidently the nice half of the town.  We ate dinner and walked around a little before heading to Monterey down Highway 1 to check into our hotel.

The hotel Mom booked?  Well, if you wanted to travel back in time to 1981 it was perfect.  Had it’s own wood burning fireplace, stocked with firewood and newspaper folded into a decorative fan shape and to top it off, we had a complimentary hot air popcorn popper.  Also they leave the door not only unlocked for you when you arrive, they leave it wide freaking open.  Which is pretty awesome for a unit located on the ground floor.  Plus, as a bonus, the windows didn’t lock.  So we unloaded the car and spent the next hour and a-half looking for another hotel.  We reloaded the car and politely checked out.  Ended up with a room a the Holiday Inn Express for nearly the same price and helluva lot closer to all the stuff we wanted to see.  In fact, it was within walking distance of the whale watching cruise we were schedule to do Thursday morning.

After leaving the Burglary Motel, we thought whale watching was going to be pretty fun.

montereywhalesWe showed up on time and the crew gave us the mandatory pre-cruise talk before departing for the 4 hour trip.  The boat’s crew included a couple naturalists and a marine biologist.  Pretty handy in case we see some marine wildlife.  Their talk included some key points of information.  First, most people will get a least a little seasick.  Second, some of those people will throw up.  Third, if you haven’t taken any seasickness medicine, take some.  Fourth, people are going to launch off the back of the boat.  And finally, when you are blowing chow don’t do it from the upper deck or the side of the boat.  Nobody wants to wear whatever you happened to eat for breakfast.  So do it from the back of the boat.

Turns out if you go to school to be a naturalist or a marine biologist and you work on a whale watching boat, part of your daily duties is to clean up barf.  Money well spent on that degree I guess.

So when you go whale watching off the coast of California, you’re on the open ocean.  The ocean is big.  The swells were big enough that when the boat was the bottom of the swell, the water at the top of swell was physically higher than us.  That was, um, disconcerting.  Especially the time the whale was at the top of the swell.  I took a pretty firm position near the back of the boat put my full faith in the anti-seasickness medicine.  I asked one of the naturalists how people normally shoot for distance off the back of the boat.  She said at least 2-3 every trip.  We evidently got lucky because I counted at least 7.

We drove down to Carmel to top off the trip before flying home on Friday.  Carmel is beautiful.  I’m not exaggerating.  It is literally beautiful.  Also expensive.  1,500 square foot houses going for $1.5 million too.  But you get these views.

So after much thought, I’ve decided to just look at these pics instead of dropping the $1.5 mil.  But that’s just me…

I Decided to Tag Along…

I haven’t been to California since 1988.  In fact, I’ve only been in the state a couple times.  Stayed a few days in San Francisco back in April of ’86 and then stayed a few days in Los Angeles for a few days in the summer of ’88.  Not only was that a really long time ago (California actually had a Republican governor during those years) but all I really saw were various portions of each city.  And if I remember correctly…they looked like, well, cities.

But, as luck would have it, Mom has a conference in the little town of Scott’s Valley this week.  We flew into San Jose and stayed downtown for a day.  Then drove down to the conference.  The town has about 12,000 people and sits just north of Santa Cruz.  So far what I’ve been able to tell is that it seems like a lot of towns about that size.  Except there seems to be a lot more people with gray hair who have pony tails.  But the town has a couple grocery stores, a small movie theater and some nice local restaurants.  Got a good sandwich at Erik’s Deli and went to see Once Upon A Time In Hollywood yesterday.  That’s a great movie by the way.  If you didn’t know, there is no CGI in the movie.  None.  Which is just incredible.  And awesome.  Also, in case you didn’t know, Brad Pitt’s character – Cliff Booth – is the coolest man on the planet.  If you care to disagree, well, I’m not sure we can be friends.  I’m serious.  If you hadn’t heard, the morally superior lefty finger waggers hate him.  It’s one of the reasons Cliff Booth is so cool.  Not kidding.  Caitlin Flanagan wrote in The Atlantic last month that Cliff shouldn’t be portrayed as a hero.  Why?  Because he’s a dude.  He’s cool, he’s tough, he drinks beer, he’s doesn’t really give a crap about much, he has a cool dog, he lives in a trailer and is pretty much a badass.  Or as Flanagan writes, “We can’t have a movie like this.  It affirms things the culture wants killed.”  Hmm.  Guess not lady.

I liked it so much I almost went back to see it again today.  But yesterday was Terrific Tuesday at the Cinelux in Scott’s Valley.  So I got a $5 ticket and free popcorn.  And once you experience Terrific Tuesday live and in person, it’s tough to go back to old ways…

roadtoscottsvalleyAnyway, tonight we drive down to Monterey and stay there for a day or so.  Which should be fun.  But here’s the thing I’ve noticed more than anything about California.  California, at least what I’ve seen of it, is beautiful.  I mean it is really, really pretty.  Weather is great too.  But man, there’s a freaking warning label on everything.  Our rental car has a warning label.  It’s says “Look out dumbass, your car might be a Transformer!”  No, kidding, it doesn’t say that.  It would be cool if it did though.  The label warns us that motor vehicles contain chemicals that cause cancer and birth defects.  These chemicals are contained in the fuel, oil, brakes, batteries, paint and the engine exhaust and fumes.  Yet, despite the warning that Californians all voted through Prop 65 to have stuck on all rental cars.  People are still renting cars. Buying them too.  But I guess that might be because there is not a warning label.  Way to go California.  Nothing like do as I say, not as I do.  But you did give us Kamala Harris so I guess that’s not something we should be surprised about.

Crazy Nights and Hamburgers

So I went to see Kiss on Tuesday night.  It is, afterall, the Final Tour Ever.  First thing is Paul Stanley still sings everything.  No backup singers.  When I saw Motley Crue in 2012, Vince Neal barely sang anything.  He had two backup singers and I’m pretty damn sure those two ladies carried him through that entire concert.  Paul singing all the songs was almost as impressive as him wearing a vest throughout the show without a shirt underneath.  A 67 year-old dude in all his hairy chested glory.  Go Paul!

KISS

Second, Crazy Nights is a great song.  Never really realized it before but it kinda has the same message as We’re Not Gonna Take It.  And nobody likes a good solid rock song that gives the middle finger to the elite know-it-alls more than me.  The music snobs like to rip hair metal for its lack of sophistication, its lack of social messaging and its embrace of over the top cheesiness.  Well, screw you.  Go listen to Green Day and hang out with Pete Buttigieg and scold us for being part of the problem because we like to eat hamburgers.  And by the way, what the hell is the deal with the left and it’s war on tailgating?  AOC wants to ban cows, Mayor Pete says if you eat hamburgers you’re part of the problem.  Cows/hamburgers are the backbone of the American Tailgating Experience.  But again, I’m just a simple 49 year-old Midwestern Dad who likes football, hamburgers and hair metal.  If that means I’m part of the problem, well, like Paul sings in Crazy Nights – “And they try to tell us that we don’t belong, But that’s alright, we’re millions strong, You are my people, you are my crowd, this is our music, we love it loud.”

Third, you don’t see it much anymore but Kiss is just 3 guitars and drums.  And explosions.  And flamethrowers.  And Gene spitting blood.  And Paul suspended from a rope flying over the crowd.  It was pretty cool.

Last, nobody knows how to finish a show like Kiss.  Last song was I Wanna Rock And Roll All Night.  Complete with beach balls falling from the arena ceiling and about 15 confetti cannons going off during the song.  Add in the whole arena screaming at high volume and you have a recipe for pandemonium.  It was eerily reminiscent of my senior prom when one guy, a huge Kiss fan, got up on a table in white tux with tails and used his white cane as a microphone and belted out I Wanna Rock And Roll All Night when the DJ played it.  And that was also awesome.

I’m patiently waiting for the next hair metal band to stop in Des Moines.  Because I’m gonna be there.  And I’m gonna have a cheeseburger.  And a crappy non-craft beer.  And its gonna be freaking awesome.

The First Day of School

The first day of school is tomorrow.  At least it is for the now high school senior and sophomore.  The soph in college doesn’t start classes until Monday.

First day of school is an adjustment for everybody.  Kids and parents.  We aren’t any different.  The biggest adjustment for Mom and I is twofold.  First, we have deal with all the whining about getting up early.  Our strategy is relentless indifference punctuated by random unpredictable explosions of outright derision.  Kinda like the political left’s strategy in regards to the First Amendment.  Second, we have to brace for the whining about homework.  Our strategy is persistent questions and reminders about their homework.  It’s a war of attrition.  Eventually the girls’ resistance crumbles and they get their homework done simply because they want us to go away.  It’s basically how Jerry Jones gets his way so often with other NFL owners.

The soph in college is different.  She left for college on the 11th.  Her sorority had to get ready for primary recruitment.  Which is what everybody used to call rush.  They got the house ready for a week and then they spent this week, well, recruiting.  Today they’re done.  So if I still have the math correct from when I was in college that means they’re going drink their asses off until Sunday.  But maybe that doesn’t happen anymore…

Because lots of things don’t happen anymore since I was college.  There are some obvious examples.  Nobody listens to hair metal anymore.  Which really must suck for the students.  You’re not allowed to fly the flag anymore – unless of course it’s the hammer and sickle.  Hell, last year the 19 year-old and her roommate didn’t even have a TV in their room.  Yeah, I’m totally serious.  It’s f’ing insane.  No idea what they did on Sunday afternoons.

Now she’s living in a room with 9 other girls.  Which, if I’m being honest, sounds absolutely awful.  Like being forced to listen to rap.  When all the three girls were home this summer it was impossible for me to get dressed without pulling long blonde hairs off all my clothes.  Every single item of clothing I have.  EVERY SINGLE ONE.  Socks.  Shirts.  Shorts.  Doesn’t matter.  It’s even worse because big t-shirts are evidently cool again so the girls all feel like they can “borrow” any t-shirt in my closet.  Most of our furniture has a nice extra blonde layer.  Plus it looks like the kitchen floor has fur.  If we turn the fan on there’s blonde hair tumbleweeds blowing across the kitchen.  I shudder at what that 10 girl room looks like.  I bet they hang machetes outside the room so they can cut their way back in after class everyday.

Anyway, do you remember the start of your senior year in high school?  Your sophomore year in high school?  I’m not gonna lie.  Senior year was awesome.  I’m pretty sure it was awesome from start to finish.  I mean how could it not be awesome when you’re driving a sweet 1981 diesel Volkswagen Rabbit listening to the supremely hot Sheena Easton sing “U Got The Look” with Prince wearing a pair of Guess Jeans with some white Reeboks.  Don’t let anybody tell you 1987 wasn’t awesome.

No idea if our senior feels as strongly about Sheena Easton as I did but she does have fairly strong feelings about her white bib overalls.  Turns out it is a tradition for the senior girls to get a pair of white bib overalls and decorate the absolute crap outta them and then wear them to the home football games.  If you were to go just by the sheer number of hours she’s put in decorating them, you’d think she was studying for the bar exam.  Luckily for her, the sophomore is a hell of an artist.  And she was somehow convinced to not only help her senior sister decorate the bibs but also to help three of her friends too.  So part of the garage was turned into a small laboratory equipped with a lot of paint and glitter.

You know what is only thing on the planet harder to get of than long blonde hairs?

Freaking glitter.  But at least the garage and driveway are really shiny now…

Toby Keith On a Monday Night

So I went to a Toby Keith concert the other night at the state fair.  Never really been to a country concert before, let alone someone like Toby Keith.  Two years ago Mom and I went to Flo-Rida at the fair.  Truth be told, I have never really been to a hip-hop concert before either.

But I liked both.  Mostly because as a member of the audience you get to participate.  If I go watch live music, I like to come home sweaty, hoarse and deaf.  I mean if you don’t, how do you actually you were there and had a good time?  But that’s just me.  And, turns out, it doesn’t matter if it’s Poison, Def Leppard, Motley Crue…Flo-Rida or Toby Keith, you come home knowing you’ve participated in the show.

Couple observations from the show.  First, not a whole lotta of “Feel the Bern” shirts in crowd.  But I did have a beer next to a guy with red, white and blue wrist bands (the old school 70’s style wrist bands), a plaid shirt with the sleeves cut off and a camo Trump 2020 hat.

Second, I kinda wish I was in the group of 10ish people down in front of the stage in the standing room only section who were all wearing the American flag as capes.  They looked like good people.  I think we would have been friends.

Third, it was tough to tell if there was more denim or more red, white and blue in the crowd.  Not that it mattered.  I mean I had on these shorts:

shredded denim shorts

And a hat with the flag on it…and a shirt that said “No Coast” with a map of the Midwest on it.

Fourth, it was extremely hard to tell if the crowd was louder during “How Do You Like Me Now” or “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue.”  I had kinda forgotten how much I liked “How Do You Like Me Now.”  I mean who doesn’t like a good solid song about giving an elitist d-bag the middle finger?

Fifth, the Des Moines Register printed a review of the concert.  It wasn’t bad except for one notable omission.  The writer pointed out that Keith avoided being overtly political with any of his statements. Aside from pointing that the world is going batshit crazy, he didn’t really have any real opinions to share.  I mean other that he really liked red solo cups and that he loved this bar.  The writer detailed how Toby closed with “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue” and as he was ending the song he told the crowd to “Never apologize for being patriotic” and judging by the sheer number of American flags being held up, we didn’t really need any encouragement regarding that.  But here’s the thing – that wasn’t the last thing Toby said even though the reviewer indicated  it was.  The last thing he said was “Never apologize for being patriotic” and then he quickly finished that sentenced with “F*ck ‘em.”  But that was notably left out of the article.  Now if you’re wondering if it was left out because of the use of profanity, you’d be as wrong as Bill de Blasio is regarding his appeal.  A couple nights ago the paper reviewed the Slipknot concert and while the band was thanking the crowd every other word uttered was an f-bomb.  The paper got around printing the profanities by printing something like “Thank you so f—ing much for coming out.”  So naturally I’m left to assume it was a case of the powers that be simply not wanting to print Keith’s obvious shot at lefty America haters.

Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things…but man, it sure got a helluva loud cheer…

Who’s Excited for Summer?

wildthingSummer needs to get here.  Fast.  Not because of my impatience for Season 3 of Stranger Things but because it is entirely possible that our 15 and 17 year-olds aren’t going to make it.  Seriously, they just might not get there.  Not because school and activities are grinding them down, moreso because there are times I feel like Mitch Williams coming outta the ‘pen for the ’89 Cubs.  I’m volatile and unpredicatible with my parenting decisions.  And if you’re not paying attention, you might get a 99 mph fastball high and tight.

I mean, okay, maybe I’m overreacting.  Maybe its true that they’re worn out from 9 months of school.  Maybe all the studying for finals has them really stressed out.  Maybe those two things combined with track and softball is just overwhelming them.  Or, maybe, its just a whole helluva lot of whining and laziness.  And those two things mingling are really just the girls inviting me to punch them in the face.  Verbally of course.  I don’t want to give any of you online parenting stormtroopers the wrong idea…

Listen, I get that it becomes harder once the weather gets warm, the grass gets green and the grills get smokier.  A cold Miller Lite, a home grilled burger and Poison playing in the background makes me happy too.  School ends on May 31st and it remains unclear how the 15 year-old is going to make it.  Seriously, she’s checked out.  Like she might be more checked out from school than Jerry Nadler is from reality.  Okay, that’s not fair.  Nadler is living in a carefully constructed alternative universe in which he’s taken seriously.  The 15 year-old is only in the process of checking out of a universe in which she knows we don’t take her seriously.  She combats her ineptitude in getting us to take her pretend exhaustion seriously by being whiny and lazy.  As each day goes by, she’s checks out a little more.  Which, if you think about it, is f’ing crazy.  She’s 15.  She’s a freshman in high school.  What the hell is so hard about the life of a high school freshman?  Mortgage payments?  Paying cellphone and car insurance bills for 5 freaking people?  Being stuck in an age demographic that somehow thinks socialism doesn’t always end in theft, murder and poverty?  Okay, that last one does suck but it shouldn’t affect her energy levels.

Anyway, here’s an example.  She has to be in her desk in her first class at 8:20 a.m.  This has been the case since August and isn’t a real high bar to clear.  It’s like if you were a new member of congress and you proposed a giant socialist manifesto proclaiming your greener-than-thou moral superiority and the only bar you had to clear was to not back up the manifesto with arguments about banning cow farts.  Anyway, you’d think after about 9 months of school, the 15 year-old would be used to this.  Shouldn’t her internal clock have moved into autopilot and the whole getting up and having all your stuff ready to go be second nature?  Well, of course not you stupid moron!  Expecting a 15 year-old to show some semblance of consistency when the weather is warm would be stupid.  High level stupidness.  I mean you’d have to be a complete imbecile to somehow come to the conclusion that by the end of freaking May, your 15 year-old daughter would be able to get out of bed, walk the 12 feet to the bathroom, get ready for school, have her track and/or softball stuff ready for practice/meet/game and – and this is key – drive herself to school in a timely manner.  Yeah, she gets to drive to school even though she’s only 15.  School license.  She doesn’t even have to make it to a freaking bus stop.  She has to walk into the garage and succesfully back the car out of the driveway and make, totally serious here, 4 total turns to get to school.

But as I mentioned earlier, that would make you stupid.  Because here’s the thing, at some point in May, the autopilot begins to malfunction.  This is due to something called “Idon’tgiveacrapitis” and we’ve all been afflicted with this ailment.  In high school, in college, as a parent and at your job.  I understand it, you understand it.  And, truth be told, I like to fully and vigorously embrace it at times.  But, here’s where parenting is bullshit, the 15 year-old doesn’t get to do it.  When she’s a senior?  Sure, I’ll probably let it slide a bit.  But not now.  Her life is not hard.  Somehow we’ve allowed her to become soft.  She’s like the media’s questions for Obama after he weaponized the IRS to go after any organization who dared oppose his reign.

Regardless, I need summer to get here so the arguments can be limited to which of the three girls gets a car for the day.  Because the constant vigilance necessary to make sure they study, turn in their assignments, take advantage of any and all retakes/extra credit while also ensuring they are on time and have all the correct track and softball is bullshit.  Now, I know some of you are acting all bad ass and saying, “Yeah, whatever man, if they didn’t have the right gear – TOUGH!”  Yeah, okay, but you know you’re getting a call from the 15 year-old about an hour or so before her first softball game saying, “MOM, I forgot my uniform pants!  Can you bring them to the field?!!!”

Seriously, that just happened.  She forgot her pants.  I wonder if Jerry Nadler forgets his pants when he freaks out about his meaningless subpoenas?

 

 

 

Ah, Spring…

So its spring.  The wonderful time of year when your allegies cause your brain to swell and your teenage daughter obessess over prom.  We’ve already been through three proms with the oldest.  So another prom didn’t seem like a big deal.  And, turns out, it really wasn’t.  The best part, for me anyway, was writing this.  Why?  Because nobody rolled their eyes at me while I meandered my way through my memories of April of ’87.  And, listen, I have three daughters.  I can identify an eye roll when I see one.  It is one of those skills that Dads of daughters involuntary master.  Like the selective hearing it takes to enjoy a game broadcast by Dan Dakich.  Or Jim Acosta and his unflappable ability to have zero self-awareness.

But back to prom and 1987.  Top Gun just came out on VHS.  George Michael and Aretha Franklin were singing I Knew You Were Waiting For Me.  And my friends and I somehow finagled a hotel room at a local hotel in which about 20 of us partied the night after prom.  I didn’t bring that up with the kids.  But I did bring up that Prom ’87 was the first time I heard Whitesnake’s Here I Go Again.  Because that’s a key moment for anyone who was in high school in the late 80’s.

The middle daughter, who happens to be on the edge of seventeen, had this whole thing planned out.  I’m not kidding.  She could teach a class on logistics and transportation.  They had a fairly decent sized group all going together.  The girls met at our house early to get ready.  She staggered the times a bit to make sure everyone had a sink and mirror in front of which to prepare.  To no one’s shock or amazement, I’m still perplexed at not only how long it takes teenage girls to get ready for prom, but also how much attention to detail they have during the getting ready process.  I’m a dude so the entire process of getting ready for prom for entailed taking a shower, putting on a rented tux and wearing these:

blue wayfarers

But with girls it is a process.  A process honed by hours and hours of practice.  It also include lots of discussion about various methods and different techniques of getting ready.  I assume it is the teenage girl version of an off-season meeting of defensive coordinators discussing the best ways to defend Tom Brady.

Regardless, I was happy to be uninvolved with all of it.  Similar to how I approach math homework.  Not a lot I can contribute, so I leave it up to Mom and provide a wide area in which she can operate.

Transporation from our house to the picture location was seemless too.  Again, mostly due to the tireless attention to detail provided by the 16 year-old and her fondness for planning.  Yeah, so instead of taking pics at the house, which is what I did back in the spring of ’87, they all pick out a picturesque locale in which to take the pics.  They picked a business close to the house that had a pond, decorative flower pots and fountain.  The picture taking process was made easier and far more enjoyable by the beers I drank prior.

The 16 year-old got pics with her boyfriend.  With each of her friends.  With most their dates.  Plus varying group pics, with assorted poses and looks – some planned, some unplanned.  When that was finally completed they ALL came back to our house to kill some time before they headed to dinner and the actual prom.  This was one of the few things that was not mapped out ahead of time by the 16 year-old.  So she volunteered our house as a spot where they could reorganize and, I assume anyway, be uncomfortable in their formal wear.  We left out a 30 pack of bottled water and some pop for them.  They were clearly and sternly informed that was all they were to drink. I also informed them of exactly how many cans of beer were in my basement fridge.  If any were missing, the only thing more obvious than the fact it was them who drank it is that Alexa is not only spying on you if she’s in your house but that she’s also the precursor to Skynet becoming self-aware.

So I’m not sure how they do it at your kids’ high school, but at ours there is generally a house where the group sleeps over.  Yeah boys and the girls.  I was as shocked as anyone to find this out three years ago.  Somebody’s parents host, and by host I mean they are tricked into having everybody stay overnight.  You generally provide some snacks and drinks for the promgoers and some semblance of a breakfast.  Your breakfast effort is largerly based on – 1) your devotion to breakfast, and 2) your skills at preparing breakfast.

A couple years ago we hosted the group after the Homecoming Dance.  We bought them some donuts and called it good.  The family that hosted the group after prom this year made them an actual breakfast.  Pancakes, eggs, etc.  Yeah, that’s just f’ing crazy.  I thought we were generous with the 2 dozen donuts.  They were Krispy Kremes.  The 16 year-old got home and if you were judging what the best part of prom based on what she talked about the most, it was the breakfast.

Teenagers can be easy to please…

 

A Weekend in Olathe

Who spent last weekend in Olathe?  Nobody?  Okay, just me then.

Actually I wasn’t alone since the 16 year was there too.  She was, truth be told, the only reason I was there.  Not that I have anything against Olathe.  It was my first time there and it seemed a lot like every other big suburb of a major midwestern city.  She had a softball tournament Saturday and Sunday.  The high school team divides itself into what is essentially the varsity and the JV for spring tournaments before practice starts on May 6.

So we left Friday afternoon about 4:30ish and drove down.  Nice enough drive except for the fact that Missouri has zero interest in maintaining any semblance of smoothness on I-35.  The first ten miles or so once you cross the Iowa/Missouri border have more craters than Adam Schiff’s credibility.  But here’s the thing – the 16 year-old is a talker.  She likes to share.  She also has strong feelings about her various playlists.  There’s the driving playlist, the homework playlist, the hype playlist, the getting ready playlist and a couple more that she told me about but my brain went into “ignore politely mode” so I don’t remember what they were.  She did ask if I wanted to listen to her throwback playlist.  Naturally, I said yes because I’m 48.  Most of the songs I like only exist on throwback playlists.  What I wasn’t really contemplating was that to the 16 year-old not only are the Backstreet Boys throwback material but so is Flo Rida.  Yeah, who knew?  I was expecting some Def Leppard.  Maybe some vintage disco.  But whatever, I like Flo Rida.  I even like his collaborations.  Especially that one with Pitbull and Lunch Money Lewis.

But I got to spend 3ish hours with her.  Which was pretty cool.  For me anyway.  Not sure of her feelings on the matter although she did only talk about stuff she cared about for those 3 hours.  But again, not sure I really care because it really isn’t that often you get to spend 3 hours alone with your junior in high school.  That kinda thing doesn’t really happen organically.

We talked about a lot of stuff.  We talked about prom.  We talked about softball.  We talked about my music vs. her music.  We talked about the various high school dramas unfolding around her.  We talked about whether or not Mom and I partied in high school.  We talked about what she should major in once she gets to college.  I tried to talk about how the Steelers would adjust to life without Antonio Brown and who I thought they’d target with their first few picks in the draft…but to be honest I think I was really just talking to myself on those things.  Which truth be told is just how it works in my house when it comes to the NFL Draft.  Mom likes football, but she’s not a nerd about it.

Anyway, the 16 year-old was stunned to learn that Mom partied a little bit in high school before cutting loose in college.  Her and her sisters have this belief that Mom did everything right in high school – never got in trouble, always got good grades, etc.  Which made me curious about their impression of me in high school.  She said they were pretty sure that I partied in high school and college.  Not sure what that says about my skills as a parent.  But I managed to graduate in both cases and went to arguably be a productive member of American society.  But I did ask some questions regarding this assumption.  I mean what makes it obvious that I partied and Mom didn’t?  It’s not like I’m carrying around a 30 pack of Stroh’s, a fake ID and a handy story on why I missed my curfew…that hasn’t happened since the spring of ’88…

The thing that simultaneously interested and repelled me was all the drama.  And it seemed like a lot.  But I haven’t been a junior in high school for 32 years.  So maybe when you’re that age there’s just more drama.  You also probably have a higher level of tolerance for it because of its prevalence.  But I’m not the best gauge in regards to appropriate or even normal levels of drama.  Mostly because I have an exceptionally low tolerance level for drama.  Like if the drama scale were to be measured from 0 to 10 with 0 being no tolerance and 10 high tolerance, I’d be a -47.  Or if you were using — as a measurement, I’d be —.

Now listen, everybody will say they hate drama.  Everybody.  And they’ll mean it.  Some people will even insist they have tolerance levels resembling mine.  They’d also be resoundingly wrong.  I have a pathological aversion to it.  Like it might be diagnosed as a mental health issue.  An issue I hope to pass along to the girls.  But listen, having three daughters hasn’t helped me deal with this either.  In fact, I believe it actually has led to the current state of my drama tolerance levels.  Not that I’m complaining.  I like being the guy with absolutely no reason to participate in your drama.  I like anchoring this curve.  Now, I won’t go out of my way to denigrate your drama-filled concerns.  I’m not mean-spirited afterall.  I’ll just ignore you.  You may misinterpret that as me not caring.  You’d be wrong.  I do care.  It’s just I care very much about ignoring your drama.  Or I’ll just quietly, albeit unapologetically, walk away.  Because here’s the deal – drama likes other drama.  Drama attracts other drama.  If drama runs into anti-drama, drama will work tirelessly to ensare the anti-drama.  Because drama can’t exist on it’s own.  There are people who are attracted to drama the way fat kids are attracted to cake.  They want their lives to be a reality show.  They’ll claim that isn’t the case, but they just can’t help themselves.  They’ll cannonball right into the drama pool.  Doesn’t matter if it involves them or not.  If their lives have somehow wandered into a drama desert, they will create it.  It’s like they have a superpower they are unaware of that can conjure drama out of the clear blue sky.  Group of friends getting along really well?  Boom – time to drop a drama grenade into that room.  You have a friend who is getting along really well with their boyfriend or girlfriend?  Time to drop some sabotage in between them to set yourself up as the arbiter.  Friend seems content with the current state of their lives?  Time to passive aggressively attack that friend for the contendedness.

So the upside is that I was able to express my views on drama to the 16 year-old.  And she couldn’t escape.  Calling that a win.