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I came up with the idea for these awards because year in, year out there were tracks that didn’t have a true home.  Very enjoyable songs that didn’t quite belong in the regular “Song of the Year” competition.  For a thorough explanation of what each of these awards are for, click here.
And now, onto this year’s winners.
Funniest Song
It’s extremely difficult for me to shake my rep as a “petulant middle schooler” when I continue to be amused by jokes about fucking mermaids, riding dolphins and drinking awful champagne made by Carlos Santana.  But here we are, for the second year in a row awarding Andy Samberg and his crew with the funniest song of the year.
Off of their debut album “Incredibad”, The Lonely Island has found their stride.  Three nerdy white guys who know they’re nerdy white guys who knowingly do a poor job of acting tough, cool and hip.  “I’m On A Boat” lampoons mainstream rap with such precision that one could actually play this song at full blast and fool true rap fans into nodding their heads and singing along.  A joke so good that people start to take it seriously?  Yeah, that’s good enough for The Lonely Island to win their second straight “Funniest Song of the Year” award.
Song of the Summer
“I’ve got those lovesick blues and I feel it more than ever”
The opening guitar strings. the opening line, the overall tone.  Everything about this song screamed summertime.  The fleeting romances, broken apart by the end of sunshine, by the obligations of adulthood, by the realization that the fling you thought had enough gas for the future was running on fumes well before labor day, “Let Down” perfectly encapsulates all of those feelings and will forever be my reminder of how the last summer of the decade felt.
The 18th Song Award
Make no mistake about it, this is not a minor award.  I don’t hand this one out lightly.  It’s not just awarded to the best undiscovered track from the previous year, but also to a song that could have legitimately won “Song of the Year”.
“Time To Pretend” is the opening song from MGMT‘s critically accalimed “Oracular Spectacular”.  In a sense the song is about the entirety of the album.  It deals with dreams of excess and the realization that these dreams don’t equal happiness.  The band spends the rest of the album navigating these emotions, but it is in the opening four minutes that you get them thrown at you, seemingly all at once.  The electronic dance rock movement that has seen the rise of groups such as Digitalism and La Roux owes a great deal of any future notoriety to the band that crafted 2008’s best hidden gem.

Sorry for the delay folks, let’s get down to business!

The “Best New Artist” award is given to the band or individual who, in the year of their debut LP’s release, shows not just exemplary talent but also a willingness and ability to present something entirely new to the musical landscape.  Think Lupe or the Arctic Monkeys in 06, or Eminem in 1999.  It isn’t enough to just have 12 good tracks, the tracks should separate the artist from nearly everything their genre has produced in recent years.

This year that honor goes to Passion Pit, who dropped their debut album Manners in 2009.  

Michael Angelako originally formed the group in 2007 in an effort to produce a few tracks to present to his girlfriend on Valentine’s day.  In the two years since, the group that came to be know as Passion Pit has gone from selling that disc for $4 dollars a piece on his college campus to creating tracks like “Moth’s Wings” that even John Mayer says is “one of the best songs I’ve heard in a long time.”
The music is a blend of electronic, dance rock, and even a little bit of disco.  I hear Los Campesinos, The Bee Gees and MGMT converge onto one disc and at times I wonder if I should be upset that one band has “stolen” all these styles, or should the fact that their imitation has gone several steps beyond cheap flattery be the lasting legacy of “Manners”?  
I choose the latter.  Passion Pit did not reinvent pop music, but their innovation stands like a beacon in the middle of the ocean, a single, distant light in the far off desert, waiting for others to arrive.

CAN HE SCORE?

Ok, I had a pretty bad week last week.  Nate Washington, a lock against Indy?  Not so much.  Did anyone see Mike Sims-Walker sitting out last week? (At least he got some!)  Or how about Derrick Mason laying a big, fat goose egg?  No and no.  And it’s not like this week’s predictions (guesses) are gonna be any easier.  And that’s what makes fantasy sports worth playing.  One week your Nostradamus, the next your Mel Kiper (Really, does anyone get paid MORE money to be wrong on a yearly basis?).  

So this week, as with all weeks, remember the picks here are relative to you and your team.  If you have a better option and you know it, ignore what I say.  Never sit a stud for a one week flyer!

TOP FIVE, LET ‘EM FLY
Jets D-  The Bills offense laid an egg last week at home against an awful Browns team and this week they’re on the road against a blitz happy Jets squad.  I expect the Jets to post decent stats in sacks and passing yards allowed. 
Randy Moss-  The stretch run of tough defenses ends this week as the Patriots get the league’s 2nd worst unit against the pass.  Expect Moss to approach his projections and maybe even go above them. 
Kellen Winslow-  Winslow is the number one option for a terrible pass offense in a week where they play the number two pass defense.  I still like the inexperienced QB Johnson to look for him enough to make Winslow a must start.
Santana Moss-  He won’t approach the crazy numbers of Miles Austin from a week ago, but he is the ‘Skins number one receiver, which makes him a must play against the Chiefs.
Bernard Berrian-  He’s the team leader in targets and the way you defeat Baltimore is through the air. 

SHUT ‘EM DOWN
Broncos D-  San Diego’s offense has too much potential to start the Broncos D against them in San Diego on a Monday night.  Three legitimate big play threats in Gates, Jackson and Sproles are enough to scare me away from using the Broncos this week.
Joe Flacco-  Another one of my hunches.  Teams watch game tape of their opponent from the prior week.  And if the Vikings are as smart as I think they are then they saw what Cincy did to Flacco and will attempt to recreate it. 
Brian Westbrook-  Yes they have a great matchup against the putrid Raiders, but until he proves himself healthy, LeSean McCoy is going to steal enough of his chances to make Westbrook a risky start.
Derrick Ward/Cadillac Williams-  I think I’ll reserve one spot for the worst RB platoon each week.  Ward and Williams have looked some combination of awful, hurt, or incompetent each week since week 2.  Leave these guys on the bench until something gives.


WAKE UP AND SMELL THE SLEEPERS

Jermichael Finley- Of the two Packer tight ends Finley seems to be getting more of the big play, downfield chances, with Donald Lee relegated to a possession type receiver.  Against a bottom five passing D, FInley could sneak up on some folks.
Braylon Edwards-  Jericho Cotchery is still hurting and may not play, giving Edwards another chance to vulture some big play opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t have been his. 
Matt Hasselbeck-  Seattle plays well at home and this week they get an Arizona defense ranked last in passing YPG allowed.
Jeremy Maclin-  I don’t think there’s any doubt as to his ability, or to the fact that he has an excellent matchup against Oakland.  The only question is Kevin Curtis.  If Maclin has indeed taken Curtis’ reps then you want him as a must start this week.  Keep track all the way up until game time to make sure.

Derrick Anderson-  I have no stats to back this up, only a hunch.  The guy playing behind him is close to being run out of town.  He faces his team’s biggest rival, with absolutely no expectations of a victory, let alone a quality performance.  All this adds up to a dangerous man, one who’ll sling the ball like he’s Brett Favre in a Wrangler commercial.


Kia Hanna #91047
Release Date- 5-1-2010
“I’m a little bit country and a lot of rock-n-roll!  I’m vivacious, energetic, witty, yet lonely.  Transplanted from the lush Texas soil to the avid desert of Nevada.  I’m looking for that certain someone who can make me… BLOOM AGAIN!  Let’s 2-step together.  The sky’s the limit…unless you count the stars!”

    Ericka Hitchcock #X08362
Release Date- 11-4-2041

I’ve been incarcerated since the age of 17, and it has changed my entire outlook on life.  I’m seeking true friendship, companionship, and overall positivity.  I think a free and gentle spirit would best describe me.  Hopefully you are someone who wont judge me on my past, and instead embrace the young lady I really am inside.  I just want someone who is wiling to write and get to know me for me.  I love music and love to dance.  I enjoy sports and am very athletic, so I’m in pretty good shape.  I’m intrigued with intellectual topics, but at times I can be silly.  If I sound like someone you’d like as a new friend, write to me and I’ll be sure to respond.”  

 
Jasmine Moore-Grant #X-19798
Release Date- 11-3-2011 
“My name is Jasmine, as you already know, I’m 24.  I’m lonely and in search of a real man for friendship, companionship, and possibly more.  It doesn’t matter if you’re older, must be stable in all ways, a kind, and caring individual.  I’m honest, sincere, easygoing, and love to learn new things.  I also live the simple things in life: romance, hugs, shopping, traveling, love, etc.  I love laughing and making others laugh.  I love to have fun!! 
Let’s get to know one another.  Must be serious and willing to commit eventually.  I promise you won’t be disappointed.”
 
Dericka Clark #1274994
Release Date- 2013 (estimate)  
“I’m seeking a kind hearted friend who enjoys life and truly wants to be happy, who wants to love, and sincerely be loved for the person they are.  Outward appearances aren’t important, I feel they don’t lead to ultimate happiness, and are not a sustaining factor in a serious, long lasting, wonderful friendship. 
I’m a very positive person, I look on the bright side of every situation.  I love to smile, I love to live.  I know what I want in life, I’m human though, I’ve made some mistakes.  I will relocate.”
 
Tonya Green #X13769
Release Date- 01-2014
“I don’t really have a preference as to who or what kind of person responds.  I’m basically searching for friendship and a companion.  I’ve been incarcerated since 2005 and still have a few years left.  This is why I’m reaching out to you.  I’m hoping for someone who is not judgmental and wants to help a friend get through some rough times.  I am a little shy, but only until I get comfortable.  I love to laugh and have a very good sense of humor.  I love to learn new things and I’m very open minded.  Well, I’m supposed to keep this brief, so I hope I’ve sparked enough curiosity in you to write.”   
   
Roseann Castillo #1471779
Release Date- 10-5-2011 
“I’m seeking friendship from responsible and dependable people, men who enjoy life as much as I do.  I enjoy life so much that my adventurous ways caught up with me.  I do regret some things I have done, like leaving my family to be responsible for my responsibilities.  But I don’t regret all the things I have done.  It is who I am and I love the woman I have become.  Without my experiences, I wouldn’t be who I am today.  Life is beautiful and I will soon enjoy life once again.  Lots of laughs, enjoy!”  


 
Nikki Tarver #32952-077
Release Date- 6-2010 with good time, 2-22-2011 max date  
“Seeking a friendship with a special someone.  I’m open to relocate, must be able to travel to Ft. Worth for contact visits.  I’m single, and desire a distinguished gentleman that possesses a heart willing to grow fond for a lady of class, intelligence, and beauty.  One that will comfort and mentally stimulate you.  I’m a nonsmoker, nor do I indulge with drugs and alcohol.  Disease free.  Uninhibited, adventurous, affectionate, one that loves to please my mate. 
If you are consistent, commitment oriented, serious, honest, financially grounded, nonjudgmental, and morally supportive, please forward me a bio and a picture.” 
 
Alma Baltazar #W93812
Release Date- 10-2011
“Loveable, playful, feisty Latina with just the precise spices to brighten your life.  Sitting here with the end of my time nearing, waiting to fulfill dreams of my own true love.  I need the support of true friends and in this group of friends I know you’ll stand out amongst the crowd, catch my attention, and together we can grow and comfort one another.  It has been a long time since someone has romanticized me, pampered and spoiled me, or just proven to me that I’m all that they see when they close their eyes and feel from within.” 
 
Alisha Parker #1302616
Release Date- 2021, eligible for parole 1-2010 
“Unlikely hot girl:  A fallen star, who, like the rest of you, is trying to figure it all out and nail that elusive secret to happiness.  A fallen star that will soon shine again.  Many people mistake lust for love, when love is a state of being, not a state of feeling.  This is an invitation to come “be” with me, as my friend first.   I want a man who has his own, who shows me that he cares deeply about the trajectory of his own life and desires to be successful.  I need someone who can support my dreams and teach me new things and grow with me.  The man of my dreams may be a combination of everything.  Expectations get in the way, but my bar is set high on standards.  You must be trustworthy, honest, driven, family oriented, and loving.  Everything I am!”
 
 
Elena Turner #14405053
Release Date- 11-4-2010 
“Hi guys, my name is Elena.  I have long, beautiful black hair, and dark chocolate almond eyes.  I’m looking for postal love and support from around the world.  I am in need of good humor and friends to keep me laughing.  I love sporting events, and have an upbeat personality.  I am an animal and nature lover.  I like my friends soft and sincere, sweet and sexy.  If you fit this description, write me and we can share our hopes and dreams together.  Tell me about yourself.”   
  
  
  
 

CAN HE SCORE?

TOP FIVE, LET ‘EM FLY
Nate Washington- Scored in three straight and the Titans are going to have to throw to keep up with Indy.  If you got him, start him and if you don’t, get him.       
 
Vernon Davis- I initially had Vernon Davis down as a “Sit” this week.  But then I realized how bad the Falcons are against the run, how bad they are against the pass and also the fact that Davis has four red zone targets this season.  So, um, yeah, he might do pretty good tomorrow.  (And for those saying “But Vernon Davis doesn’t run the ball”, remember, the run sets up the pass.)
Glen Coffee- Remember the part where the Falcons can’t stop the run?  Couple that with the fact that the 49ers offense is 15th in rushing YPG and Coffee seems like a lock for close to twenty points.
Nate Burleson- Plays well at home, plus he gets Hasslebeck throwing to him again this week.
Mike Sims-Walker-  Seattle’s D is 17th in passing YPG and Sims-Walker seems to be Garrard’s favorite target at this point.  You have to go with the hot hand, and there have been few hotter than Sims-Walker these past few weeks.

SHUT ‘EM DOWN

Steve Smith (CAR)-  His value is tied entirely to Delhomme’s ability to find him.  Until his QB gets his act together, bench Smith unless better options escape you.

Marshawn Lynch, Fred Jackson-  The Bills offense stinks right now.  Sure, there’s a chance they could run up the score on a pretty bad Browns team, but knowing which of these guys will do the most damage is nigh impossible at this point.  Avoid starting either guy until a clear front runner emerges. 

Eli Manning-  He might post decent stats, but surely won’t go big enough to win your game for you.  Once they get up, and up they will get, they’re going to go to Jacobs and Bradshaw to milk the clock.  Plus, there is always the risk of a recurrence of the heel injury from last week.

Pats Defense-  Too much lost talent from last year to now, too many injuries to be a reliable start.  The worst part of this matchup is that they’re former offensive coordinator knows these guys well enough to exploit their weak spots and exploit McDaniel will. 

WAKE UP AND SMELL THE SLEEPERS
David Garrard-  I expect both defenses to struggle here, making a shootout quite likely.  Jacksonville passes well enough to take advantage of the matchup.  
Mohamed Massaquoi, Jerome Harrison-  The Browns have effectively re-started training camp, going with a new QB, WR and RB all in the past three weeks.  They need to see what these new/old toys can do, so expect them to be force fed the chance to suck as their predecessors once did. (Garbage points are points nonetheless.)
Jabar Gaffney- Facing his former team and backed by a coaching staff that knows the Pats very well, I like Gaffney as Orton’s safety net this week.

Brandon Pettigrew-  With Stafford nursing a knee injury, Duante Culpepper gets the start.  Rookie/Mediocre/Bad QB’s tend to use the Tight End as a crutch and Culpepper isn’t a Rookie or mediocre, so throw to Pettigrew he will.

Can He Score? is the fantasy blog at rexdeaz.blogspot.com.  It is written by a guy whose best served not trying to date women from Ivy League Universities (Currently 0-4, ouch!).

Me, In Real Life


I got a job today.  Now, don’t get too excited, because I am most assuredly not excited.  For 9 hours a day I’m going to be bugging people at a call center in Tustin, CA, selling “Vehicle Service Contracts”.  Not warranties, but “Vehicle Service Contracts”.  I know, you’re asking “But, does it work like a warranty?”  And the answer is yes, but I’m not supposed to tell you that (pretend like you skipped the first paragraph).

The environment, upon first, third and fifth viewing reminds me of the movie “Boiler Room”.  There are phones and computers everywhere, wall to wall, for three floors.  The guys all look like they’re former something or others trying to make a quick buck so they can pay for the car they can’t really afford and keep the wife satisfied.  ( A brief respite:  I call a former something or other a guy who looks like he hasn’t been in shape since the weekend after his last “big game” back in high school/college/semi-pro/European basketball, and is now working in a competition based environment so he can expend some of his mental energy and because he didn’t bother to learn any skills applicable to any other type of job.)  The men have beer guts, shiny shirts and Payless Shoes (I’ve bought five pair of Payless shoes this year, I know what I’m looking at), while the women have on too much makeup, slutty boots and tight jeans.  Mind you the dress code calls for “business casual”, not “crusing for casual sex”.   


My boss is a nice enough guy.  If the term “short, stocky, bald man” hadn’t been coined 15 years ago, I’d be in the process of using it for the first time right now in describing him.  He too is a failure in a position of last resort.  With his comedy career not taking off (He yearns for a “Superfinger” to call his own) the way he had hoped, he turned to the wonderful world of call center quality assurance.  He interviewed me on Friday and thoroughly impressed with my “polish” he offered me a spot in the training program not 30 seconds after I walked out of the door.  

I had no real expectations for what would take place in my first week.  Sure, I thought about what I’ve heard from friends and about what I’ve seen on TV, but I had no real clue what a call center job would actually entail.  As the room filled up with the other trainees I knew that god was providing me with the perfect opportunity.  Anytime I come across a cross section of personalities, races and education levels I get giddy inside.  There is something truly special about being able to watch people who have ZERO in common try and get along because they all lack the same thing: Money! (Now the poor klu klux man see that we’re all brothers not because things are the same, but because we lack the same color: that’s green.  Now that’s mean,
cant burn his cross cause he can’t afford the gasoline- Lupe Fiasco)

We had the rapper; the housewife; the author; the blonde from Colorado; the former European basketball player (You thought I was kidding about that one?); and the transplant from Texas with the skinny knees, huge gut, triangular toe nails and the legally blind husband who’s also a mechanic who stabbed himself in the stomach opening a package of frozen meat but has never hurt himself using an electric drill.

Some had trouble reading the script, some had issues with the written test and others just didn’t have the umph on the phone the bossman was looking for.  Out of the eleven that started the training only 7 made the cut.  I wasn’t particularly proud of being selected, I was more sorry for the ones who needed the job more than I did.  Yeah it only pays 8 dollars an hour and the commission is pretty shitty, but I have other chances, better opportunities waiting for me.  Some of the others didn’t.

This isn’t the greatest job ever invented, but it also isn’t the worst job I’ve ever had either.  I’m going to put my nose to the grindstone, bust it out and move on when the time calls.  Until then, enjoy any and everything I post regarding this place.  

If you can’t be here, you might as well come along for the ride.

Can He Score?

You Should Be Angling For…………….

 Tashard Choice and Matt Forte

Everyone and their momma knows that they should be trying to acquire the only, truly healthy piece of a rushing attack that has gone for more than 400 yards the last two weeks, so we’ll call Tashard Choice kind of a no brainer pick up this week.  But, try working a deal for the Bears’ Matt Forte.  No need to run all of his stats from this year, he’s been awful.  I’ll just drop one on you instead: He touched the ball 27 times last week.  Considering we know what his production ceiling is you have to figure that a consistent string of performances that include 25 attempts/receptions can and will lead to bigger and better things.  If you have the spare parts to do it, steal Forte from an impatient, irrational owner.

You Should Be Benching…………………..

Bernard Berrian and Andre Johnson

Considering where these guys were drafted in most leagues this is gonna be a tough pill for some to swallow.  But think about this:  In 9 games against the Packers, Berrian is averaging less than two catches per game, with only one touchdown.  Ever!  Andre Johnson has it even worse, as he becomes the latest high flyer to go up against Nnamdi Asomugha.  Johnson’s ceiling for this game sits somewhere near his 3 catch, 50 yard average against the Raiders, but the potential for a pitfall is too great to take that risk.  Look at last season’s 2 catch, 19 yard stinker as proof.  If you don’t have better options, then by all means give em a go.  But don’t be surprised if you lose by the amount these guys should have contributed.

You Should Be Starting…………….

Bengals Defense and Julian Eddleman/Wes Welker

The Bengals D has played with some kinda chip on their shoulder all season and with the awful, awful Cleveland Browns up next, they’re worth at least a spot start this week.  Unless you have a premier defense already in place, swap out your mediocre squad for the Bengals this week. 

Don’t be fooled by the “resurgence” of Fred Taylor.  No way the Patriots commit to as many runs this week against the excellent Baltimore defense.  Instead, look for the two headed monster of Eddleman/Welker to produce their usual stat line.  Whichever one of these guys is healthy and starting is the guy to go with, as the Pats love to use them as the main alternative when running the ball proves too tough.

Can He Score is the fantasy football blog at rexdeaz.blogspot.com.  It is written by the two-time defending champion of Center Court One Fantasy Football, based out of Cleveland Heights, Ohio. 

My National Debut

(Written for Big League Stew, June 16th, 2009)

 

An on-the-ground account of Rick Vaughn bobblehead night

‘Duk note: Loyal Stewie David Connor (better known ’round these parts as rexdeaz was at the Brewers-Indians game on Monday night and was nice enough not to only snag me a souvenir — what have the rest of you done for me lately, by the way? — but write about his quest as well as the journey of other Major League fans he met. His words follow below.

* * *

As you might have heard, Monday finally brought Rick Vaughn bobblehead night at County Stadium Progressive Field. Major League sits squarely at No. 2 on my list of favorite movies. It was the film that gave a dying city hope and inspired the most improbable turnaround of any franchise in recent memory. (Rocktober and RockJune notwithstanding, of course.)

Of course, I’m not the only one with an affinity for the film as I was able to meet people who had driven from all over to celebrate “Major League Monday” and one of the most memorable characters from a baseball movie.  

For example, on the way to last night’s contest I noticed something quite strange: Canadian accents! Tyler, Aaron and Justin were Blue Jays fans that made their way down from Ontario to see the Tribe, “support ballparks near Toronto” and, yes, “to get bobbleheads.”

I then noticed a woman headed to the restroom wearing the jersey of the Wild Thing himself. Waiting for her to reappear, I ended up beginning a conversation with her husband Chris instead. A Mets fan from New York, he had bought the gift for his wife as her 50th birthday present. He and his wife Nancy had planned on coming to the game since mid-April and Nancy claimed to have seen the movie “at least 15 times”. 

After finishing my conversation with the couple, I spotted three guys who obviously weren’t from around here. Jason, Dan and Matt were all diehard Brewers fans who had decided to come to the game back in February, way before the promotions schedule had even been released. That they’d be heading back with a cool souvenir made the trip all the better, though they said they’d only seen the movie a combined five times or so — even with their own broadcaster, Bob Uecker, appearing in the film (and throwing out Monday’s first pitch).

Quick tangent: The coolest part of the night was seeing the onslaught of old school jerseys for popular players on either team. Represented in the best 80’s fashion last night were: Corey Hart(notes), Prince Fielder(notes), Ryan Braun, Grady Sizemore(notes) and even Pedro Cerrano, Rick Vaughn and Roger Dorn! Strangely, though, neither team wore their old uniforms.

By far, the award for the coolest fans of the night went to Amy and her husband Ben, who hailed from Chicago. Ben had purchased three Major League jerseys for Christmas — Dorn, Willie Mays Hayes, and Vaughn — one for himself, one for his brother and one for his dad. He and his wife heard about the giveaway on a radio show and decided to make the drive over to Cleveland. I asked them to try and remember how many times they’d seen the movie and they both responded with “too many to count!” We began going over some of the film’s more famous quotes, with Amy spouting out most of them. Note to Ben: She’s. A. Keeper.

(So, really, what we had here were Cubs fans wearing fake Indians jerseys while in town to watch the Brewers. Do we need any other reason to keep interleague play?)

As for my own Vaughn bobblehead quest, getting the first didn’t prove to be much of a problem. They were handed out to all fans.

But getting bobblehead No. 2 to give to the venerable and esteemed editor of this here blog? Well, that was a bit tricky as the guards at the gates were locking us IN to limit us at one bobble. But determined I was to deck out ‘Duk with a Rick Vaughn of his own.

I gave security a puppy dog face, told them I had to go back to work and I was free and on my way to gate A! I stuffed bobblehead No. 1 in the bottom of my bag, under my gym shorts, gym socks and dress shoes. I was hoping like heck that they wouldn’t thoroughly check the bag as I attempted to enter on the opposite side of the ballpark. As I approached the security guard, I informed him that I had gym shorts in my bag and he responded by not even going past the first layer of shoes! Bobble No. 2 will now have a nice home at Stew HQ.

Of course, there were plenty of Brewers fans at Progressive Field on “Major League Monday”. Their connection to the film is nearly as deep as ours. The movie was filmed at their park, and it co-starred their longtime announcer. It was a truly great night indeed.
Up until the 8th inning for this Tribe fan, of course. 

* * *

A little trivia for you: Who led the Tribe in homers in 2003?
Hint: I got to watch his sweet swing during the last group of Brewers BP.

* * *

A big BLS head nod goes out to C. Trent Rosecrans, who drove up to the game from Cincinnati and shot the above photos for his award-winning blog.

"Welcome to the darkside…"

Those were the words said to Ryan Atwood, lead character on “The O.C.”, as he entered his first Orange County house party.  And while I had been in Southern California for several days by the time we went, it was a trip to Venice Beach that brought me into a darkside of my very own.  There were junkies, jugglers, gangbangers, milfs, bodybuilders, tourists, break dancers and even a film crew. 

For those that know me, I’m no stranger to the camera.  I’ve been interviewed for the news close to a dozen times and when I sit in the fancy seats at sports stadiums the camera guys always seem to find the “average, non threatening negro” to show off to the rest of the crowd.  So it came as no surprise that this film crew on Venice Beach wanted to get a word with me and the people I was with.  The rest of the video is pretty self explanatory.  Enjoy!

(Written on the 10 Year Anniversary of the Columbine Shooting Massacre, April 20th, 2009)

 
 
Woke up, took a shower. Maybe I ironed my clothes, but probably not. Made my way down from the 14th floor, out to my mom’s car. I rode in the front, my sister in the back. I played my mix tape, a combination of “The Barenaked Ladies” and “The New Radicals”, while my mother and sister listened to “The Tom Joyner Morning Show”. We made our way from Euclid, up the highway, and reached our destination of John F. Kennedy High School. My mom let us out in the easternmost driveway, next door to the fire station. I wasn’t in any particular type of mood that day, I just didn’t wanna go to school. So soon as my sister made her way inside and my mom turned around to head towards work, I hopped on the number 15 bus. We lived about a half hour away driving, but on the bus the trip home would take about 2 hours. I stopped at Dunkin Donuts, got a sausage, egg and cheese croissant sandwich and proceeded to wait for the number 34. About 10 minutes into the hour and 15 minute ride a pretty girl got on. She sat across from me and we struck up a conversation, much to my surprise. I forget her name, or even what she looked like, but I do remember sharing a piece of Big Red with her. We spoke for the entirety of her ride, she got off on Euclid and I still had another 30 minutes to go. I made my connection to the number 39, the entire time wondering if the cops were gonna finally see me and ask what I was doing out of school at such an early hour. But alas, I made the trip back home unharmed. I went back up to the 14th floor, mentally preparing myself for a day of junk food, Canadian TV and video games. As I cut the television on I found the same thing on every major channel. I assumed something had happened downtown and all the cameras were there to capture it. Then I noticed all the people running. Next came the S.W.A.T. team breaching a door. The newscasters weren’t able to make much sense of the event and neither was I. Was it a school? And if so, was it here? In Ohio at least? It took some time, but eventually they let on that it was a school, and that that school was in Columbine, Colorado. Shots were being fired, people continued to run for cover and the news was there to capture it all. They carried out bodies, dead or alive I couldn’t tell. One boy was able to bust out of a second story window and was carried to rescue. And then, almost as quickly as it started, it ended. Initially there was no confirmation as to how many gunmen there were, turns out there were two.

Students Evacuating Columbine High School. Daniel Rohrbough’s body is visible at the base of the stairs.

I wondered why. I still wonder why. I knew there needed to be an explanation for this or these events would get blown out of proportion quickly. In the coming days, weeks and months the shooter’s lives would be dissected and opened up to public scrutiny. Everyone had an answer, everyone drew their own conclusions. School systems across the country would begin to crack down on the most benign things. No more trench coats, rainy day or not. No more black eyeliner. And most especially (Trust me, I know first hand) no more off color remarks about death or suicide. The personal freedom and individual growth you’re expected do in high school was now only allowed to happen if you “fit” the mold. Fall in line or be treated as if you were a witch, to be burned at the stake for fear you were the next Eric Harris or Dylan Klebold. Good intentions, poor execution. The knee jerk reaction displayed by those in charge did nothing to stop the problems that spawn such terrible occurrences. There are still bullies, still classes and cliques that exclude folks who appear differently. Ten years ago today I saw something that I thought would change my life and the lives of those who followed. But, ten years later, I’m not so sure.