Matters Of Little Consequence

‘There is no one way to blog, there is simply a way to blog. Choose that which speaks to you, and if it doesn’t suit someone else? Fuck ’em’

My rebel yell style of play was going strong by June of 2007. The above thought came from a blog post which drew some acclaim for calling out the “Sam Houston Bloggers among us” who lorded over the blogosphere as if they owned the fucking place. It was a stinging response to a blogger who had called me out for not being down with blogging etiquette. The dude also happened to be one of Dan’s networking pals, and they had something in common; they were better at making connections than at actually writing.

Dan had been away from the blog for over a month when a case of viral meningitis landed him in the hospital. He was still keeping tabs from the sidelines though, and he had a few somethings to say about my bridge burning episode with one of his compadres. But I possessed hand, in the form of stats. And they were booming. My feud with Sam Houston had trickled from his comment thread to my own, with followers and daily notifications of crazy. We made it onto the featured blogs of the WordPress front page, after which I wrote a “Thanks But Who Cares” post in response which was quickly- and rightly- taken down by Dan. Admittedly, I needed a muzzle sometimes.

But I didn’t wish to be a part of a fraternal order. I simply wanted to spill my thoughts onto the page, with no preconceived notions or obligations to anyone or anything but the thoughts in my head. Because to pattern my writing after what I perceived to be the popular branding method would have been to cheat myself, and everyone else. It stole away improvisation and replaced it with a homogenized rendition.

I had effectively exorcised the Britney sugar walls episode with a post titled How To Prevent A Shark Attack, which sandblasted any residual effects of my spiritual nadir. Granted, it wasn’t great literature by any stretch. But at least it was writing and not a porn centerfold. The comment thread churned on for weeks, with a couple notable favorites; Like Patti. She introduced herself as a marine biologist and then began to critique my shark attack strategies, point by point. Then she let me know some of the best moments of her life were spent around sharks. So of course . . I had to respond in (not so) kind, and I finished my thoughts with this.

One last thing. If some of the best moments of your life were spent around sharks, it means you’ve never been laid. Good luck with that. And keep reading!

And then there was Marek- a German filmmaker who was interested in using the image in my post for one of his film covers. I told him ten grand would do the job. He took it seriously and we actually went back and forth in emails for a while before I had to break it to him that I was joking.

That was how the blog went. People either got the joke, or they didn’t. But regardless, they were reading us up. Because when we were good, we were very good. But when we were bad, we were buttah. The blog was a marriage of ugly and pretty words, and they were making babies. Furiously so.

It was to wit, the pretty words that won over The Dame. A Mother’s Day post titled My First Girl had her gushing like a school girl. Of course, outside of the Manson family, the overwhelming majority of dudes have pretty words at the ready for their mothers. I was gladly accepting of her glowing comments and our ever more involved emails to each other. But still, I was miffed at how a virtual stranger could fall for simple words. I read my Shakespeare, and I know that it works. But the logistics of it never did make much sense to me.

“You ask too many questions,” Dan said in response to my questioning her love and affection for my modern day romantic side.

“Yeah, because I realize that writing something beautiful and heartfelt is not the same as being something beautiful and heartfelt,”

“Whatever works, Marco”.

To my way of thinking, it was much too easy to make someone believe in something that wasn’t real. And with some background to go off of, I knew that she was clinging to the version of me that suited her struggling spirit. But hell if I wasn’t doing the same thing. And it didn’t matter any longer because we were a snowball, running away from the peak and straight into a catastrophe.

The morning of June 7th produced one of my least inspired efforts in months. I had too much on my mind and so I took the easy way out. I bashed the Washington Nationals new ballpark, which I equated to a money pit mausoleum for a minor league product.

The Nationals move falls in line with ‘elite’ franchise ticket prices, such as the New York Yankees, who are charging up to $400 for top seats this season, exempting natural blonde strippers. The Boston Red Sox charge $312 for an infield dugout box and $500 for a ten minute conversation with Curt Schilling. The Los Angeles Dodgers charge $450 for some premium, game-day seats close to the field and $300 for a picture with Tommy Lasorda’s penis pump.

When I got home from work that night, I checked the blog and then my emails. And there it was, the prayer to all my answers. The Dame. Her email was short and sweet and it included her phone number and an invitation. She was blaming her impetuousness on the Pinot.

I had no such alibi.

Matters Of Little Consequence

The best way to reach Atlantis is by drowning. So, yanno . . . be advised. 

By the spring of 2007, the blog was settling into a predictable rhythm. I derived zero enjoyment from the notoriety we had garnered after the Britney shot; partly because it was fucking stupid but mostly because it wasn’t my personality. Blog hits were a currency I couldn’t relate to in the least. But rather than dwell on it, I kept my nose to the grind by rubbing more spice into the beast in order to cull that ching. I wrote provocative shit and connected with other bloggers and brainstormed ideas with Dan late in the night.

Dan wanted to schmooze and to get known and I wanted to write and be left the fuck alone, so we were able to achieve a perfect balance. We were vastly different people who found a righteous third pedal with which to ride this duct taped circus tricycle into a flow that had some keeps. And so what if the means to our endgame was polar bear opposite? We figured there’d be insurance for that.

As someone with depression, writing had become a beautiful outlet through which I could invite my inner tempest without need for a visit to the psych ward. When I wasn’t chitting with sports bloggers or chatting with food bloggers, I was commiserating with depressed peeps like me. I treated blogging the way I treat cocktail parties. Fetch a comfortable drink, find a spot on the fringe and then cozy up to someone who fits my perspective.

Unfortunately my love life didn’t follow the same set of rules. In this respect, I always seemed to find the loudest crash. After a few soft landings to break me in to the new old fashioned ways of romance, I’d gotten down to brass knuckles. In the months leading up to my head on collision with the “Dame”, my common sense had gone rogue warrior. A top five mishaps from that most interesting period? Sure why not . . .

5- Tracy loved Jaeger shots and revolvers. Moving right along . . .
4- Lizette gifted me an Irish soccer t-shirt after our St. Patrick’s Day hookup. Her gun toting baby daddy proved to be too expensive for my umm . . blood.
3- Gina smoked weed whilst driving and her hobbies included bar fights and tat collecting.
2- Karen was always there. Like when she needed a place to crash rent free. Or when she needed money. Or when she needed to recover from a bad breakup. Yep, she was there.
1- Maria

How do you solve a problem like Maria? Damned if I knew. The girl was TNT in spaghetti straps, with the ability to seduce a Pastor on Sunday morning. We’d reconnected at her birthday party the previous summer, where everyone had been invited to feel her new boobs during champagne toasts. Months later during a snowstorm, she invited me over for a private showing. She had a couple bottles of wine and smokes, which clinched the summit for me.

I’d been planning an exit strategy ever since, because every moment spent with her brought catastrophic risk. Girl had a posse of ex boyfriends with warrants and possessive ex girlfriends who hated men. Understandably, I never actually slept during the time I was sleeping with Maria. Thank God for Dan’s incredibly shitty judgement, or I might have ended up being immortalized on some after hours cable crime show.

As if Britney hadn’t harshed my mellow enough, you can imagine my surprise when I woke up to a post on our blog written by Maria. Evidently she had sweet talked Dan into letting her write with us after I kept turning her down. So it was that she treated our readers to the specs on her boob job, her crush on Jesus when times got tough. And oh . . sordid tales of sex with Marco.

My brain exploded, after which I deleted the post, changed the password on the blog and warned Dan that I wasn’t planning on giving it back so easily and that if he ever pulled some stupid shit like that again, I’d tell Emie about his recurring dreams. And then I broke up with Maria, which was awkward considering the fact we weren’t actually dating.

I decided to practice celibacy after that. It was a combination crash diet and detox program, with lots of early nights involved. I read like crazy and wrote like a maniac when I wasn’t running and meditating and for about a week and a half I thought I had the stuff of monks. Until Dan, bless his dark, misguided heart, turned me on to a blogger who would end up changing my life forever. She went by the moniker “Dame” and her blog was a literary cutlery set.

I still remember the first time I read her. She was promising to exact revenge on her former beloved in ways that would have had Messalina shuddering in her sandals. And while it was evident this fellow had proven to be a master cheat, the Dame’s punitive measures were, to put it mildly, extreme. Her vengeful anecdote didn’t mention water boarding, since it seemed too lenient a measure. Everything else was on the table, however.

She believed in an eye for an eye- as in, applying a skewer to his roving one. She talked about how she was going to sleep with his friends, his brother and maybe even his old man if it came to that. I was well aware these specific threats were made in jest, but I was also aware there was no jest in her enmity for the sonofabitch.

Her ramble was homicidal, with only trace elements of sarcasm involved, to keep you from calling the authorities; sort of like a tinctured brandy in a whodunit that lets the damsel escape to some exotic locale before a single badge makes the scene. She was straight up wicked in her brilliance, with the kind of cunning that John Grisham couldn’t touch with a satellite. She had two moves carved to a platinum inset before you stepped out of bed, and while Dan called her crazy, I knew she was something more than that. Entirely.

Truth be told, her ode to a lover gone wrong read insanely. It was the kind of beau bounty that should have had me running into the Atlantic Ocean and not coming up for air until I reached a well lit tunnel dressed in cherubs. That would have been the normal reaction, sure. But me?

I was falling.

Matters of Little Consequence

I think God created blogging when he had nothing else to talk about.

I had to admit Dan had gone bulls-eye with his little idea. The 800lb Gorilla was chugging along on nicotine, friendly drinks and unsympathetic satire that offered no quarter for sacred cows. The blogosphere had plugged me into a tantric remedy in which I was writing practically every day. Shop hours would vary depending on the day ahead. Sometimes I would go for an early morning run and then post something before heading out. On other days I would regale in the simple comfit fixtures of a laptop and a well armed Martini after hours. It was Zen capture inside the tear drops of a clock whose purpose now seemed to dovetail its method into my madness.

I was enjoying myself immensely, in spite of the detours that would crop up now that our elbow bending riffs were being held in a virtual forum. Like the time Dan called to tell me Google had taken a shit on our Blogger platform and he had moved us over to a place called WordPress. But just like all the other bumps in the road, this one proved to be quite fortuitous. Because whereas our former website behaved like a rural dirt road, the new digs were akin to an eight lane highway.

Everything was coming back peach as summer moved into fall. My kids were feeling good about how life was looking on the other side of the split. My soon to be ex-wife had met a man on a dating site and things were promising. And I had met a nice girl inside the same week, on the same site as the ex-wife and things were promising as well. For a couple months. After which I got back to dating and black book research.

As far as writing was concerned, I had unlocked a parallel of myself to which had always been a mystery before this time. It was a quicksilver reckoning in which my creative bones were shaking loose, as if pole vaulting over thunderheads.

We’re gonna need a bigger boat

December 12th, 2006 is when push came to shove. It was some time in the middle of the night when Dan posted what would launch the Gorilla from obscurity into a grass roots movement that would end up getting play in a couple online magazines and local radio shows.

It was later that morning, I was doing a supply run when my phone came to life. It was Dan.

“Dude, you checking this shit out?”

“What shit?”

“The blog!”

“Oh, yeah . . the shot of Britney’s front yard. You know what you sonofabitch, next time give me a heads up when you post some shit like that,”

“Sorry to offend your delicate senses,”

“Dan, my daughter listens to Britney, okay? I don’t need to see her business is all I’m saying. I prefer to keep her in my sexy little Smurf collection where anatomy doesn’t exist. And where did you find that pic?”

“I hit on a website when I was surfing around last night for something to write about. We were one of the first sites to put it up,”

“Wow, I always wanted to run a porn site. I guess the degenerate blue ribbon goes to us, huh?”

“Marc, you see the hits?”

“I don’t look at hits, I look at writing. I’m the insufferable artist and you’re the soulless networking prick, remember?”

“We’re at 2,900 hits so far . . . I think we could hit 10 grand,”

“Jesus Christ, that Federline douchebag was right! She does have a magical vagina!” I exclaimed before I realized I was talking out loud in the middle of Staples.

“This is our hanging curve ball, it’s how we’re gonna get known for all the writing we’ve been doing in the dark,”

“As if Hemingway isn’t dead enough,” I whined.

“We have the eyeballs now is how I look at it. And I’ll tell you what man, we’re gonna need a bigger boat,” Dan said before we hung up.

This should have been cause for celebration. But whereas Dan was sewing this latest turn of events into a Matterhorn applique, I was dubious. For fuck’s sake, we’d been writing our asses to the tune of a couple stray comments here and there; so stray were these comments that we should’ve tested them for rabies. It was that kind of virtual desert island shit. And that was fine by me, because the writing was keeping me upright.

If writing truly mattered, how was it that I could write madly for a year and elicit nothing more than a yawn? Meanwhile, Britney simply had to play 21 Jump Street with a mini-skirt to clobber the fuck out of me. I was thinking too hard, and I knew this. Dan was right. Eyeballs were the bottom line to any kind of future for the site, and now we had them. It was time to put on my big boy swimming trunks and pray at the altar of Mary Shelly.

We were looking straight into the eye of a storm, even if we didn’t know it yet.

Matters of Little Consequence

Vegas, May 2005:

In Vegas, everyone enjoys home field advantage, even if they hail from Connecticut. Everything is up for grabs and the rest of it is available for a price. I didn’t bother with the alias you’re supposed to wear once you arrive in Sin City. I went with my real name since the scene of any crime begins with a lie, and so it stood to reason that telling the truth was like hiding in plain sight.

A cross country jet ride is an experiment in the absurdities of time traveling, and no amount of preparation ever seems to emulsify the oil and vinegar composition of jet lag. I dozed in and out as the scenery flickered in piecemeal arrangements; from the dark green steeples of mountain ranges to vast plains which resembled oceans riding along with the top down, and then canyons and then dust, where the terrain can best be described as postcards from Jupiter. It’s a ghostly descent into what feels like the edge of the world, until you spot the flash of apocalyptic neon that lets you know you have arrived at the intersection of Christmas and Hell. Because this is the place Mr. Potter would’ve built if Quentin Tarantino had written It’s a Wonderful Life.

I was one hundred and eighty minutes in the black when my flight touched down at McCarran. I sliced through the slot machine cricket song and shit fashion sense of Sugar Daddies on loan. After checking into my hotel, I grabbed lunch and game planned the next few days: Hoover Dam, Gladys Knight at the Tropicana, the Bellagio Buffet, Gilley’s Honky Tonk, the Guggenheim exhibit of Egyptian antiquities and a dead president parade in honor of Bugsy Siegel. I hate giving my money away to worthwhile pursuits, much less a smarmy looking dealer who’s hopped up on Starbucks and reeks of menthol. But I had given myself a kitschy stipend for the toga party that is new age Rome. No camping out at tables or slots, no getting to know the waitress’s family history. Get in, win or lose twenty bucks and get out. If nothing else, I’d know what it felt like to rob convenience stores for a living.

I tugged on a Marlboro, sipped at my frosty hops and picked on a roast beef sandwich as my mind poured wicked intentions as if sugar on a spinning wheel. Life on the other side of marriage had proven less daunting than I’d feared before my separation. Online dating was a nice supplement to my old school sensibilities, where black books and long time female friends imbued my reconstructive efforts. Vegas would be a celebration of life on the B side, sans the rose garden and white picket fence existence.

A blog isn’t an STD

And in much the same way my eleven years of marriage had flown by as if it had been fitted with rocket boosters, my Vegas jaunt crushed hours into minutes and days into the rear view. Before I could get the cosmic license plate number, I was contemplating my last full day in town. I’d saved Gladys Knight for my going away song, because she was going to make me cry when she lit the fuse on “Midnight Train to Georgia”, and I couldn’t think of a better way to say goodbye.

It was the crack of noon when I arrived poolside with a mimosa in tow. The afterglow of a one night stand was laying siege to my senses as I dialed up the mystery girl. I’d invited her to brunch, in spite of the fact it was an outdated gesture inside the age of hit and run.

We connected in Gilley’s the night before, when our eyes kept running into each other as some clueless young pup in a baseball cap fed her drinks. Until then, I was contenting myself just fine with a steady diet of beer whilst enjoying the mud wrestling contests and bikini clad bartenders. And then the baseball cap went to relieve himself and then I swooped in and bought her next round- Absolut and Red Bull- and when our verbs began moving horizontally, we followed.

Wrong number.

The girl wasn’t the least bit interested in getting anything more substantial than the hustle and flow of a Vegas tryst. I respected the hell out of her game, which never would’ve culminated in a score if she hadn’t been packing the Trojans this discount Romeo had somehow left off his checklist. All that and she saved me the brunch tab.

I ordered another mimosa and contemplated whether I wanted to eat something or just nap by the pool when my phone chimed to life. It was Dan, my sometimes pal ever since he married my former jogging partner Emie. Me and Dan were polar opposites who shared an affinity for beer, and that’s really all that matters.

“How’s Vegas?”

“It’s like the garden inside Hunter S. Thompson’s head,” I replied.

“I’m afraid to ask,” Dan laughs.

“Oh yeah, and that jazz about dry heat is bullshit. It’s a fucking industrial microwave is what it is, which is why you have to be soaking in a pool or an adult beverage at all times. And really . . you should be doing both,”

“Hey, I’d like to get together when you’re back in town and toss around some ideas I’ve got about a blog,” Dan said.

“What’s a blog?”

“It’s a website where you write whatever the fuck you feel like writing and people comment on it. You read their shit and comment back, it’s kind of like a community of storytellers,” He explained.

“And you’re asking me what?”

“To write with me,”

“How much is this blog?”

“It’s free,”

“Free is good,”

“I’m surprised you never heard of blogging before,” Dan said.

“Dude, if a woman told me she had a blog, I’d be getting tested. That’s how much I know about a blog,”

“So you interested?” Dan asked.

“I don’t know, you do your research and as long as it keeps coming back free . . then  maybe,” I said reluctantly.

“Did you get married for the hell of it?” Dan laughed.

“Because downsizing the hell out of my shit after one marriage wasn’t enough? Nah  . . you know who gets married for fun? Psychos, that’s who. And there’s the whole I’m still legally married detail to consider. And oh yeah . .  even amicable divorces ask for shit you didn’t know you even fucking had. So umm, no Chachi. But hey! I did bump into Andie MacDowell at Mandalay Bay and I’m pretty sure I’m pregnant now,”

“Dinner when we get back, on me. I want you to be in on this with me,” Dan said.

“You buying dinner means you really want me,” I laughed.

“I’m serious about this. Come on dude, what’s the worst that could happen?” Dan replied.

Famous last words.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matters of Little Consequence

The following summer series is based on true events. It was inspired by the movie After Hours, a little known dark comedy out of the eighties in which the main character feasts on Murphy’s Law until the sun comes up.

The only thing that goes as planned is time. The rest is a cosmic jump ball.

December 31, 2009- I’ve been invited to a New Years party for the second year in a row, which is kind of like being hit by lightning and then donning a suit of armor in anticipation of the next storm. I say this because of my enigmatic nature. I give off the appearance of a social butterfly but parties make me anxious. I find them to be a random exercise in human behavior to which I’ve never been able to relate.

The only reason I’m going is because I’ve got an idea. It’s provocatively ambitious, sort of like a Hemi without brakes. Page one of the blueprint involves a slight reboot on the standard Martini made famous by old Blue Eyes. Because when venturing into dangerous territory, always have a drink in you. And when said territory involves a married woman, make it a good one.

The room is slanted towards the female persuasion. Still, I ain’t making any Sunday morning pancake plans just the same. I’m riding hard on a bet whose crimson locks would drape nicely over any part of me they wished to venture.

I sidle up to Jen, who’s nailing some woefully inebriated chap to his gold cross for having the audacity to make a pass at her. She’s the anomaly; the only woman who showed up without a pretty sidekick. That’s because her man is out of town, and her friend is the hostess. Oh yeah, and it’s also because the hostess is the one I have my sights set on. Jen possesses a morbid appreciation for car wrecks. And to be witness to the event as it’s taking place? Well that’s just bonus round.

“Making friends, I see . .” I smile as the drunk married guy gives up on her and moves to a ring of peach schnapps gigglers.

“He’s telling me all about his wife and then he asks me what I’m doing after this,” Jen smirks.

“Women are big on honesty, the old boy’s just aiming to please,”

“So are you really gonna do this?” Jen asks. Her eyes are twinkling with visions of fist fights and police calls.

“All systems go. Problemo?”

“Well, you show up to the scene of the crime . . a year later almost to the day. This time you come alone, with the intention of stealing the hostess . . .”

“Borrowing,”

“I’m sorry, I forgot how important the language is for you,”

“Stealing is bad form. It’s what high school boys do with Prom Queens. They chase, steal and score. Whereas an experienced rodeo hand pursues, borrows and makes breakfast,”

“Yeah, awesome. But it seems your expedition is based entirely on assumption,”

“Please explain,”

“You’re assuming that when she dropped the ‘we should get drinks sometime‘ line in your lap, it meant something,”

“It’s called due diligence. And besides, a married woman feeds me that line, she ain’t planning on baking cookies with it,”

“She could be a tease,”

“I’ve considered that. But when Cleopatra bats her eyelashes in your direction, you jump first and ask the pertinent questions later,”

“Remind me again why you’re still single?” Jen laughs.

“Because I tried coupling. I’ve tried it my whole life, in fact.”

“Chicago girl was a bad idea,” Jen says.

As far as understatements go, this is a platinum mantle piece. The context is that she was a brilliant writer, a former model and a trust fund brat who had legs like catamarans. From the get, she was handing out more red flags than a member of the Soviet Komsomol, but I was blinded by the science.

It’s been three months since the worst breakup of my life and it’s as if the universe talked me into coming here tonight. As if the stars wrote up this destiny whilst sipping on moonshine and listening to Johnny Cash. But I’ve got nothing to lose and that ain’t helping matters.

Time’s gonna do its business, with or without me.

 

 

 

 

 

Slipping Mickeys, Elvis sightings and a jagged little thrill

Roller Coaster Pic

You’re either a theme park person or you are not a theme park person.

I’ve stretched the stubborn elasticity of this narrow minded statement for more than fifteen years. Ever since my kids were old enough to want to partake in stupid shit, like thrill rides. The genesis was palatable enough to my land loving senses, as the girl was not tall enough for the big coasters and my son was just fine with the vintage chill of Ferris wheels and water rides. Chill is my remedy.

Our initial foray was to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg. I planned on having an easy time of it until my daughter eyed Apollo’s Chariot and implored me to try it so I could share with her the glorious stories of my trip to the heavens. It was described not as a roller coaster, but as a ‘hyper coaster’, which ain’t civilized sounding in the least. I wouldn’t learn the specs of this steel monster until later, which is probably a good thing. All I knew was that it looked as if Satan had dug out of his finished basement and was flipping the bird to the heavens in a steel splint. I longed for the days when parks used to amuse us, because lemme tell you . . I wasn’t amused.

I’d done the Comet in Coney Island and Rolling Thunder at Six Flags, because those were roller coasters as per the definition. Apollo was Godzilla with a grievance. But it was a matter of Daddy please, and you just don’t refuse such a request. You’re better off telling Vito Corleone to shit in his hat. Looking back I have to admit . . it wasn’t as bad as I had feared. It was worse. Much, much worse. 

Once the seal was broken, the kids eventually grew into the big kid rides and we were off. Over the years, we hit Six Flags parks up and down the East Coast, King’s Dominion, Hershey Park, Dorney Park and of course . . Disney World. It was a week long tour of duty in which fear of catastrophic injury was replaced with monetary servitude to the world’s most famous pickpocket, Mickey Mouse. The little fucker’s cash crib ain’t much for thrill rides, because they’re too busy filling the castle with ching. It’s a little known fact that every time a Disney guest screams, an angel gets its eviction notice. Magical indeed.

It had been several years since I last stepped foot in a theme park and truth be told, I didn’t miss “the thrill”. Because I happen to think the biggest thrills come in caramel colored bottles, impromptu dalliances and doctor visits. There ain’t no twist or turn or drop I ain’t covered in its most exquisitely provocative iteration, thank you very much.

Thing is, my daughter bought us season tickets to Hershey Park and we’d not punched a single hole in our dance cards yet. So, we got to stepping last week. And while the company was divine and the weather was Monet on loan, the observatory deck known as my brain wasn’t being seduced by the rest of it. At all.

We had a few hours with which to try the new rides on for size, grab a bite to eat and make our getaway before the monsoon of school, work and church groups launched their invasion into the park. The first stop was an indoor house of pain ride known as Laff Track; a steel coaster that manhandles you in near darkness and doesn’t even bother to kiss you goodbye. I was thankful I hadn’t eaten, since the closing act includes more spinning than a White House press briefing.

After that it was off to something called the “Triple Tower”- a set of three towers ranging from 80 to 189 feet in height, where riders are provided with a view of the entire park in mere seconds, before plummeting to the ground. It’s described as an aggressive thrill ride, because even when Americans are having fun they’re at war; in this instance with their common sense. I made it a point not to look up as we inched closer to the Hershey Bar tower (189 feet) whilst trying to talk my daughter into the Hershey Kiss (80 feet).

 

Daughter: (Laughing) No one’s going on the Kiss. 

Me: Exactly! We have a ride ALL to ourselves, like Elvis. 

Daughter: Elvis is dead. 

Me: Yeah, but he went out the old fashioned way . . on pain pills and desperation. 

Daughter: You ski black diamonds, rock climb . . you almost drowned in an undertow because you swim out so deep, and you’re afraid of this?

Me: Those happened to be my jam. If I’m gonna be toast, at least I know I buttered it. 

Daughter: Look at all these kids in line, they’re not sweating it. 

Me: Because kids are stupid. 

My argument didn’t pass muster, but my common sense remained intact and I ditched the idea of accompanying her. I’ve been on enough creaky elevators to know a shit deal when I see one, no thank you.

After that, we made our way over to Sky Rush only to discover it was closed for maintenance. Thank. Fucking. Christ. Because I’m pretty sure I was gonna bag this one too, based on the specs coming back at me: 200 foot drop, 75 miles an hour, 5 zero-G hills . . and did I mention a 200 foot drop? Because I can’t mention that shit enough. Oh yeah, and a lap bar is all you get. Now . . I’m all for fun and games but I ain’t down with the possibility of instant death. And you know what’s even worse than that proposition? Non-instant death, where the only form of sex I would ever get to enjoy would be served up in applesauce through a sippy cup.

Elvis

 

I’m not gonna lie, the vertical ferocity of these man made serpents is fascinating. Much more so when I’m researching them from a recliner with a friendly beverage. The actual experience of being treated like a Mike Tyson opponent by these muscular tumbling machines is not nearly as memorable.

But it’s a long summer and me and the girl are going back this week. We set a goal of twenty five trips, which means there is going to be plenty of time with which to change my mind and try something stupid, because it wouldn’t be the first time. There is the very real possibility that maybe Imma try my crazy hat on for size after all.

The other one.

I Got 99 Problems But A Pitch Ain’t One

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Going to the new Yankee Stadium is an exercise in the megalomaniacal excesses of old money crashing head long into new money and making babies; entitled little creatures whose trust funded silver spoon was upgraded to platinum in the reboot. For a culture stuck in a perpetual hunger for all things next gen, this joint plays a peach melody.

I’m plenty fine with the new digs, really. It’s just that, as a Yankee fan of a certain age . . I adhere to the bargain basement sensibility that asks, “If it’s swimming just fine, why the harpoon?”. Of course, just like Jeopardy whiz James Holzhauer, I know the answer before the question is set into its stone foundation. Yankee Stadium Part 3 is a masterstroke of inevitability run amok. Where sports stadiums have become premium tier caviar cribs, loosing a greed-think philosophy which has turned a day at the ballgame into a Disney vacation replete with fine restaurants and overpriced everything else. Seats have become investments, patrons have become guests and season tickets have turned into catching a couple games a year, maybe.

I miss the Yankee Stadium that was replaced by this one. The history of that place alone should have placed it on the National Register of Historic Places. The names that played its stage define an epoch of sporting accomplishment. From Ruth, Gehrig and DiMaggio to Mantle, Jackson and Jeter. Not to mention the rivals who graced the coliseum of a golden age: Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, Ted Williams, Satchel Paige and Hank Aaron. And that’s just the first chapter.

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And oh yeah . . Knute Rockne and Vince Lombardi coached there. Joe Louis and Max Schmeling fought there. The 1958 Title Game (“The Greatest Game Ever Played”) between the Colts and Giants was played there. And Pope Paul VI and later Pope John Paul II celebrated mass there. And that’s just chapter two.

As we’ve seen, Cathedrals do fall and time is an impatient beast when it comes to change. Hell, the game has been transformed into a stat geek’s paradise; what with infield shifts that resemble pileups on the BQE and players who don’t know what a bunt looks like, and feast or famine box scores. But through it all, the game is really still as simple as a pitcher telling a little white pill what to do while a batter tries to talk it into doing something else.

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So it was that I took my son and his young bride to see the Yankees play the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday afternoon, in a battle for first place in the American League East. A match-up of team aces, with the Yankees sending out Masahiro Tanaka and the Rays answering with 2018 AL Cy Young award winner Blake Snell. Thing about aces, there are expectations. The crowd expects A plus cooking, so when he starts scribbling B work, the chatter can get colorful. I happen to think there’s a beauty to watching a pitcher negotiate outs from the third rail. And these two pitchers ransomed zeroes from their respective arsenals, as if devils at the wheel. Tanaka’s four seamer was flat lining and his slider called in sick and yet, he was able to muster six scoreless innings before getting hit on the shin and becoming the latest Yankee to hit the injured list, which reads like a Hemingway tally.

His counterpart, Blake Snell, has stuff that’s more wicked than a trigger happy ridge runner. And while his curve ball wasn’t fooling anyone, his Hi-Lo game kept the home team at bay; with a fastball that salted the rim and a change up that tossed them into the drink time after hopeless time.

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One of my favorite things about the game is the down time, with which a writer chisels out Longfellow, Hopper and even a little Seinfeld. I talked with my son about that magical ride of a ’96 Yankees club. And then I studied the iconic facade that wraps itself around the holler of blue seats whilst pitching a Seinfeld skit inspired by the Goombah with the Giambi t-shirt a couple rows south of us that had the kids cracking up. We figured out the Yankees Rushmore somewhere in between.

As is my baseball ritual, I honed in on the infinite ripples of a game. Like how Tanaka stops on a dime at the quarter pole of his delivery. And how Luke Voit plays first base like the most earnest of rugby players. And how Kevin Kermaier of the Rays became my Grand Master of a most favorite baseball funk, with his insane between pitch stretches and his bantering to teammates and that Tarantino howitzer of an arm.

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As is the new age custom, the bullpen took the keys a little more than halfway through and outside of a few hiccups, they made it into extra innings after a Gio Urshela drive to deep right died two feet short of a walk off home run celebration for the Bombers. In Kermaier’s mitt, because of course. And then Austin Meadows of the Rays tore a moon beam into those same right field seats two innings later to give the visitors the lead for good.

The 2-1 win gave the Rays temporary possession of first place. And from the looks of it, these guys are intent on being a thorn in the sides of baseball royalty this season. Talent is the greatest equalizer, and when you have the chops to do something about it, you always got next.

Because some things never go out of style.