Friday, May 23, 2008

Stand clear of the closing doors

First things first, Yankees 13 Mariner 2. Beautiful day for a baseball game in the Bronx. Met up with Jolly Skartvedt and two middle aged friends of his at a restaurant outside the stadium where we ordered different variations of Jerk Chicken entrees as one of the guys, Lou, got visibly frustrated with the service. The waiter tried to remember our simple orders (Jerk Chicken wrap, Jerk Chicken dinner, etc..) and failed miserably. Needless to say, it was a great game. The Yanks just poured on run after run while lighting up Erik Bedard. Andy Petite was fantastic and Shelly Duncan hit a 3 run bomb to left to start the explosion. Jolly was being hit on all game by the girl across the aisle who seemed to be there with her boyfriend.

One thing that I truly hate about New York City is the abundance of people who walk around talking to themselves. I'm not talking about the ones who are singing to themselves listening to their iPods or muttering as they step in a puddle. Its the people who are standing at the corner having an obviously one-sided conversation with no one in particular. The guy in the park sitting on the bench snapping at someone invisible sitting next to him. The old woman with the grocery bag who stops in the middle of the cross walk to ask a question of someone when there is no one within 30 feet of her. I am aware that in all likelihood a majority of these individuals are clearly disturbed. My run ins with these people unnerve me more than anything else that I have encountered lately. Except for that time last week when I ran into a possum (sp?) outside the garage!

As I was walking through Penn station earlier tonight on my way home, a dude approached me and asked for 75 cents. I was a little taken aback by the request for such an exact and small amount of money. Having only one quarter in my pocket, I handed it to him and apologized for some reason. I hadn't taken 3 steps before I passed this young couple being propositioned by this one obviously down on his luck dude. I had heard the story before "I'm really sorry to have to bother you, but I lost my wallet and have no way of getting home, could I just borrow $10 to buy a train ticket?" or "I AM NOT A BUM, and I wouldn't be asking you this if I wasn't in such a bind, but could you help me out with such and such". This is the definition of a 'Boy who cried wolf' scene. Obviously there are people who get their wallets stolen, lose their cellphone, etc... and have to resort to asking complete strangers for a few bucks to get them going again. However, there also would seem to be people who, by impersonating the aforementioned individuals, could make a few quick bucks with this ploy. The later group is really ruining it for all those poor people who fall upon some bad luck away from home and nowhere to turn. I guess this isn't really a boy crying wolf, but one boy crying "wolf!" when there is no wolf around and another boy coming along and crying "wolf!" only to be ignored and eaten by the wolf.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Reason #453 that I hate the Spurs

I despise Robert Horry.

If the cheap shot he laid into David West's back tonight puts him out of commission for Game 7 on saturday(?) he will have effectively ruined the seasons of two of the most fascinating and enjoyable teams in the league in consecutive Western Conference semi-finals. The Nash hit last year was definitely worse and much more obviously malicious, but setting a blind side screen in middle of a man's already injured back is still a shitty and lowly thing to do. When Mark Jackson defended Horry's actions right afterwards, I felt relieved that Donnie Walsh didn't hire this stupid sonofabitch to be the coach. If you are going to win, win with class. Horry has none and obviously neither does Mark Jackson.

I hope West will be alright for the rest of the playoffs and that the Hornets kick the shit out of the Spurs in New Orleans.

Can't catch a break?

Think you've got it rough? A tornado tear through your house in Oklahoma? Are you about to lose your house due to the sub-prime mortgage fiasco? Lose your job?

Quit whining. There are people out there who got stuck in traffic on their way to their weekend homes and you're calling your misstep a tragedy? Come on people. Before you complain about the thousands of people whose lives were destroyed by Cyclone Nargis, recognize the real horror for the people stuck in there Benz's in gridlock traffic on their way to what was SUPPOSED to be a relaxing weekend away.

When we go away we always stop

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Life outside the magic kingdom

Wasn't it just 2 years ago that JJ Reddick was the poster boy of college basketball? Everyone was basically in agreement that he wasn't athletic or big enough to be as effective in the NBA as he had been at Duke, but that he was still a very talented scorer with one of the best jumpshots we had ever seen. He became Duke's all-time leading scorer despite the fact that every team's game plan revolved around stopping him first and foremost. He was taken in the lottery by the Magic and has yet to get any consistent burn.

The NBA is made up of stars and role players. These role players tend not to have the complete games of their more heralded teammates but still possess some skill set that allows them to help their team. Reggie Evans can't score for shit but still plays defense and rebounds enough to justify a spot for himself. Jacque Vaughn has inexplicably been in the league forever without knowing what it feels like to get in the stat sheet. Bruce Bowen is one of the worst people on the planet but is still lauded for his "defense and hustle". My point is that all of these players and plenty more don't have the all around game of LeBron or KG but are valuable components nonetheless because they bring to the table tools that a successful team needs.

How is it that no team can make use of a player who is all but automatic from anywhere in the gym if given an open look. Kapono just snagged a huge deal last summer for having no other discernible skills besides being able to knock down J's at a good clip and being a good looking guy. Sure JJ's not as big as Kaponovich but I would argue that he is just as good of a shooter. For the past 2-3 years all the announcers have talked about when the Cavs have gotten bumped from the playoffs is that he doesn't have a reliable shooter on the other wing who he can kick it to when the defense collapses. Sure, they've had Gibson, West, Sczerbiak, Pavlovic, etc... but none of them have been able to get it done consistently.

I was never the biggest Reddick fan, but it was impossible not to respect his game. The man worked his ass off, knew how to get open and play to his strengths, and filled it up like a motherfucker. You don't think he could be a good option coming off the bench for 20 minutes a night, open up the floor for LeBron while he does his thing? He's not going to be the first option for any team he plays for, but he should still be able to find a niche somewhere in the league because of what he does do well. If guys like Steve Kerr and Matt Carroll are able to carve out a spot for themselves with just their jump shots and not much else, why can't this guy?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

And may you live to be a thousand years old!

I was running a little late today and I had to hustle to catch the 6:03 train out of Penn station today. Much like all other trains at that time of day it was absolutely packed. To get to the train from the main station you have to take either the escalator or elevator down to the tracks. They only announce the track number that a train is on 10 minutes in advance of the departure so its always a free for all as everyone fights for positioning. There is just one tiny door leading to the escalator and hundreds of people pushing each other to get through this one opening. Try to imagine a human meat grinder. That's essentially what it looks like.

So, on the train I was one of the last people to get on and considered myself lucky that I found some room to stand where I could hold onto a handle nearby. Trying to stand on the train sans some sort of grounding is a difficult proposition, anchoring yourself somehow is obviously key here. Not two feet from me were two older women sitting down with sunglasses on. The one on the left, probably in her late 50's had a large rolling suitcase standing up against the side of the car right next to my legs. I happened to nudge the suitcase at one point which elicited a questionable look from its owner. Not wanting to seem too obvious, she waited about 5 seconds before moving it into the aisle, the main thoroughfare of the train, so it would be right at her side and not within the reach of this stranger's clumsy legs.

The feeling that someone is nervously eying you, making sure you don't try to pull anything funny, definitely borders on paranoia but is hard to put out of your mind. Like walking behind someone when every so often they steal anxious glances over their shoulder at you to make sure you're not creeping up on them. I received substantially more of these kinds of looks while I was growing my beard but it still happens occasionally.

This was one of those times. So this woman, put her huge piece of luggage right in the way of where everyone was trying to walk just to get it away from me. Had she had a bad experience somewhere in her past that would teach her to be overly careful with her things around strangers? What did she think I was going to do to her precious suitcase?

My mom had an experience at her store in NYC a long time ago where a group of robbers came in and stuck up the place, had her at gunpoint, and stole a ton of merchandise. Ever since that encounter she has become extremely protective and careful around anyone she feels could represent a similar threat to her. Should she really be blamed for exhibiting a mindset that could be described as xenophobic, since it was instilled in her by such a traumatic experience? As people grow older and have more life experiences, they are going to be exposed to

Could this be why as people grow older they tend to become more conservative? They feel that they have lived and learned, and thus know everything that they possibly need to know about how the world works? Its easy to be idealistic, open-minded and think the world could be a perfect and happy place if you haven't been confronted face to face with its harsh realities. If someone has fucked with your suitcase in the past, of course you're going to be extra careful that it doesn't happen again. If someone robs your store, of course you're going to take extra security measures and be careful about who you let in. However, by themselves, these acts could be construed as paranoid, racist or discriminatory.

So whats the bottom line here? Should someone who fears for his/her safety, with good reason or not, be hesitant to act cautiously just because they could possibly be seen as xenophobic or paranoid? I don't know the answer to this.

I saw a quote somewhere saying essentially, be kind because everyone is fighting a battle of some kind. I think this is a great way to approach encounters with others. Knowing that there are (usually) reasons for people to act the way they do, it is best not to make assumptions or hold it against people when they do not act the way that you think they should.