The Fast and Fantasy: Tokyo Draft

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Published on : September 2, 2017

 

 

Welcome fantasy football fans and anyone else who wandered here. Currently, it’s NFL preseason, which means two things: real football is very close and many fantasy leagues are having their drafts. As we all know, the draft is a huge factor in determining success for the season. It’s the single biggest element in regard to who makes the playoffs. But this isn’t a draft guide, it’s a journal entry of a man who just went through the ringer. This is my 2017 fantasy football draft story.

 

I’m in two leagues. Which isn’t that wild. At my worst, I was in five. But that was way back in college. Crazy times. Back to 2017, The Prison League (12 team, non-ppr) where we base our team names on all football related run-ins with the law. In the last few years I’ve been:

  • Ray Lewis Killed a Guy
  • Larry “Choke out” Johnson
  • Titus “Twice in a day” Young
  • Don’t Jim and Drive Irsay
  • Bad Cellmate Phillips
  • Aqib “Shot myself” Talib
  • Jerry Sandusky’s Kids (current team)

 

The funny thing is, we never run out of new names. It’s like the players and coaches know about our group and get in trouble just to help out. Then, there is my new fantasy venture, the Dynasty League (10 team superflex, ppr, 5 year keeper). I’ve never done a keeper league before. But it is the closest you can get to running a real franchise so it should be fun. The two draft dates were one week apart, on consecutive Sundays.

 

 

The Dynasty draft came first. I met with my two buddies here in town and we face-timed with a crew back in Michigan. All 10 of us were connected via wifi from different places and devices. Pretty cool experience. Would still love to do a full on live draft with all owners in one place someday. The original plan was to pick the first 10 rounds (of 27) then do the rest over text. We had some convoluted way to determine draft order and I got the short end of the stick with the #9 pick. At least the last player gets to pick twice in the snake format. Needless to say, I was a little salty. My petty super villain brain started turning. What could I do to the rest of the league to show my displeasure?

 

My first idea was to slow everything down. Drag my feet whenever possible and make the whole process as little fun as could be. As outlined by the commissioner, each owner is entitled to 6 minutes for each pick during the draft. My plan was to use every second. Make it slow and painful. Make the others feel my anger. Your classic spite-based filibuster. This plan backfired because the draft took place at noon on the west coast and I had closed the restaurant the night before. That means I wasn’t home till 5am. So I was tired and hungover. Slowing down this marathon was going to kill me. I just didn’t have the intestinal fortitude for it. I am weak.

 

As the rounds continued, a new plan came to mind. Try and use the insane depth of the bench (16 spots) to create an imbalance. What I mean to say is, how can I exploit the numbers to invent an advantage? The idea was to waste 8 picks on the top defenses (D/ST) which would force owners with good rosters to potentially start a sub-par unit. The scoring is setup that defenses are some of the most likely units to post a negative score. What if you could make an opponent to start a shit D/ST and maybe even negate some of their own offense? That would be huge. Even if the other owners smelled the ruse and stocked up, then at worst everyone is back to even (in terms of this scheme).

 

 

I picked the Broncos, Chiefs and Cardinals in consecutive rounds. A few owners took the cue and grab one of the other top 10 defenses. My turn came back around while I was digging through my handwritten draft notes (in it’s own special notebook) and I discovered a number of quality players had gone undrafted. Gasp! How did no one take Darren Sproles? It’s PPR. That changed everything. Finding great talent, late in the draft is a REAL advantage. Not the joke defense short I was trying to manifest. It’s the most Wall Street thing I’ve ever done since I did blow in the bathroom of that trendy joint in American Psycho.

 

The Dynasty draft started Sunday then continued on a group text for the last few rounds. But there were so many damn rounds that it went all week. It went until the Prison League draft started the next Sunday. That’s just crazy. And kind of awful. For perspective, in that week, one owner welcomed two new members to his family. Their births were technically mid-draft. FYI, getting twins in the 21st round is a total steal.

 

The Prison League draft had its own issues. Mostly technical. The draft was 3pm Los Angeles time, so I set my alarm for 2:57pm. Woke up, after a dozen chirps from my iphone 4S, rolled out of bed and opened my computer. I try and launch the “Live Draft” window on ESPN’s Fantasy Football site. But I get some bullshit flash plug-in bullshit error message. I launch “Diet Draft” or whatever and login to see it’s my pick and there are 4 seconds left. AutoDraft has me taking Odell Beckham Jr. Good enough for me. Rough start but I’ll take OBJ all day at #7 overall. That overall draft went pretty well. A the Dynasty madness, it felt like smooth sailing. But everyone thinks they have a good team right after the draft. I believe the term is roster-bate or rosterbating.

 

I wish everyone a good season and for some reason, if someone slights you then try and get petty revenge. Or better yet just win the whole damn thing and then gloat like a teenager.

 

Make believe.

 

 


A letter from the Spurs and a simple crime

Written by :
Published on : June 24, 2017

 

In 2004, the Detroit Pistons won the NBA Championship. They had an awesome squad featuring Richard Hamilton, Ben Wallace, Chauncey Billups, Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace. I was 19-years-old at the time and it was my freshmen year of college. My brother and I were both living in Chicago and we watched every Finals game together.

 

The Pistons played a Lakers team featuring hall of fame talent in Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Gary Peyton and Karl Malone. The sporting world didn’t think we stood a chance but Detroit won the series in a commanding 5 games. I can remember being at my brother’s apartment for game 5, I went to the fridge and saw Miller High Life. AKA the champagne of beers. Like champagne as in championship. I saw the golden bottles and got nervous. I asked my bro about it but he cut me off. As if to say, “don’t jinx it”. But we won. We drank those beers and it was one of the best memories I’ve have.

 

2004 pistons

 

Flash forward to 2005, the Pistons make it back to the NBA Finals, this time against the San Antonio Spurs. We’re talking Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Bruce Bowen, Brent Barry, Robert Horry and Manu Ginobili. Plus a deep bench of quality players and the master, Greg Popovich, at the helm. This time around, Game 5 was a heart breaker. Robert Fucking Horry. No one guards the inbound man and Horry gets the ball back and sinks a huge 3 with just seconds left. San Antonio steals the game and ends up winning the series in 7. Destroying the hope of a Detroit repeat. Needless to say, I was salty. The Spurs were officially on my shit list.

 

Jumping forward again. It’s the summer after the Pistons lost to the Spurs. I’m home visiting the family in Michigan. My brother was also in town. He wants to take me out for a drink and starts listing off places he thinks won’t card me (I was 20). It’s Detroit, so the list is long. I silence this line of questioning by pulling out my flawless $75 fake Indiana Driver’s License. Complete with hologram. Which I bought from some shady kids in Chicago. The ID looked great because these guys had a real professional rig. They had a macbook, a scanner and even a printer. The forgery was made in photoshop so you could claim any info you wanted. I’m now 23 and an organ donor. It was a quality fake with my very own picture. More importantly, it worked everywhere.

 

My brother and I settle on local spot since I’ve got the fake. We roll in and meet meet my bro’s friend. We get drinks at the bar. Bartender asks for everyone’s papers. A quick glance and we all have beers. Cheers. A few rounds later and the social lubricant is glistening. A round of  whiskey shots to clear our heads. Then, I spot it. The letter. My blood boils. My jaw locks. And I just point until the crew notices. Finally, my brother glances over. His eyebrows jump, as he reads a few lines.

 

2005-Game-5-Robert-Horry

 

Now, I wish I had a picture of the letter but this was way back in 2005 and I didn’t get a cell phone until the next harvest. But even then, that camera was really, really bad. So let me just summarize. The letter was on official San Antonio Spurs stationary. It went something like this:

 

“Thank you so much for your hospitality during the Spurs 2005 championship run, we found the city of Detroit overall, to be very hostile, but your bar and restaurant was an oasis to our franchise. Blah, blah, blah. Slurp, slurp, slurp. Blah, blah, slurp, blah…”

 

After another round and tons of shit talk. We, as a group, decide that the local bar shouldn’t show off memorabilia of teams that beat us in the championship. Then, someone says “we should steal it.” I grab the frame and realize that it’s bolted down. As if this wasn’t the first time someone has tried to take it. Plan thwarted. For now. We keep scheming and we land on the idea that we cannot, in good conscience, leave this document in the possession of the bar. It’s our duty, to the city of Detroit and its fans.

 

Our plan goes into motion. All three of us working like a swiss clock. It’s straight, Ocean’s Eleven. I grab the frame and violently rip it from the wall. It makes an awful sound. An extra yank (yeah, I said it) and the letter comes free! And just like prison, I pass the contraband off to someone else (my brother’s friend). He takes the prize, puts it under his hoodie and bee lines for the exit. I walk the other way and disappear out the front like Keyser Söze. All while my brother sits and drinks from a lookout spot across the dining room. Genius.

 

keyser-soze

 

We lost the 2005 NBA Finals but we stole the Spurs stupid thank you letter. A real lost the battle but won the war scenario. Maybe now that Italian joint in the suburbs of Detroit will think twice before displaying their little love notes with the enemy. That should be the lesson here. Don’t sellout your city just to rub elbows with some celebs. It’s a trash move. And if you are going to do it, at least don’t brag about it or hang trophies of your betrayal in places I go drinking.

 

Sincerely yours,

 

Bruno Tysh

 

 


Waiting on Aaron Rodgers

Written by :
Published on : May 31, 2017

 

I wait tables at a diner in Los Angeles. It’s not a glamorous job but it keeps bread in my basket. It’s a tip based gig so good customer service is the name of the game. And I’d like to think that I’m pretty good at my job but it definitely wears on me from time to time. Recently, I had a night to remember. This is my story of waiting on Aaron Rodgers, star quarterback of the Green Bay Packers.

 

First, let’s set the scene. I started my shift at 9pm. It normally goes until around 2am (we close at 4am) but a funny thing happened, the other server showed up wasted and was instantly sent home. That means I’m now closing. Great. Also one of the bussers didn’t show so we were even more short staffed. Plus the kitchen didn’t prep the daily special that everyone keeps ordering. Needless to say, I was cranky pants for most of the night.

 

Around 2:30 am it happened, a group of five takes my big booth. I go get drink orders and that’s when I realize. Seat 3 is Aaron Fucking Rodgers. The cherry on top of a shit sundae of a shift. Now, I have to play nice to the one pro athlete I hate the most. What a joke. I’ve watched Aaron Rodgers single-handedly destroy my Detroit Lions for the last decade. I legit despise this guy. Don’t get me wrong, he’s real good at football, that’s why I dislike him. Because he always guts me and my team. I’d list all the terrible moments but it would just get me all worked up. So, I smile and nod, while Rodger’s buddies order oreo milkshakes. I tried to find someone on the staff who could understand my predicament but with no other football fans around, I went into the back and sent a text to Alex.

 

Aaron Rodger text message

 

Alex brought up a good point. What am I going to do with this opportunity? Spit in his food? Turn my back on my city and ask for a photo? Do nothing and stew quietly (my traditional go-to)? Or maybe something bold? I had a little time to game plan. I went back and got orders. Aaron Rodgers orderd the breakfast burrito and as quick as he can read a cover-2 defense, I up-sell him on adding bacon (extra $2.50!). He bites hard on my offer. Point Bruno. Rodger’s little sidekick dittos the order, “I’ll have the same.” I can tell this happens a lot with this guy. The others get cheese fries, a breakfast sandwich and a club sandwich (no tomatoes).

 

Aaron Rodgers & Co eat their food, I check in, all gravy. No dessert, no coffee, they are ready for the check. Shit. Game time. I follow Alex’s lead and write “Go Lions” on the bottom of the receipt. I fold it lengthwise, as per usual, and go to drop it to everyone’s favorite NFL star. But before I can get there, the short blonde pulls out her Amex and insists I take it. Fuck, he may not see my message now. I run the card and return to the table, the check is unfolded, face up. Maybe he saw it? We’ll never know.

 

Rodgers check

 

The table stands and slowly makes their way to the door. I’m at the computer, closest to the the front. Aaron Rodgers is 5 feet from me. I get the idea, I should tackle him. I push that idea out of my head and then another thought creeps in. I look at Rodgers and say “Hey man”, he looks at me. We lock eyes, I say “we’ll see you at Ford Field this year” he rolls his eyes and gives a sarcastic “yeah” and then walks out.

 

I was on cloud nine. I felt so cool and tough. In my head, I told off a millionaire. The reality is, I’m not even going to the Packers at Lions game, I was just saying that as the royal ‘we’, like the Lions and I will see you later this year. Even funnier is to think of this story from Aaron Rodger’s perspective. He came in, got some okay food, decent service, then a stranger made a vague reference to seeing him later. End of story.

 

Short blonde friend did tip $20 on $75.69 which is like 26%, which I’ll take all day. There was also a moment where I considered, “what if Aaron Rodgers gets mad about the ‘Go Lions’ thing and doesn’t tip me?” but I already hate him, if he didn’t tip me, then this would be a very different story. Either way, worth it.

 

Nobody eats for free.

 

 


My first time horseback riding

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Published on : January 25, 2017

 

 

Over the weekend, I went horseback riding for the first time ever. As a child, I once sat on a pony while it was forced to walk in a circle at a random carnival but I don’t really consider that riding. This all started as plans for my friend Rita’s birthday. She organized a day trip to Griffith Park Horse Rentals here in the Los Angeles area. I had my usual instant repulsion as I do with all new things outside my comfort zone and I didn’t RSVP. Finally, I decided “Fuck it, I’m in”. When am I going to have this chance again? Because I would never do this on my own.

 

We arrived at the stables and met our friends at the check-in table. The only thing I knew coming in was to wear pants, closed toe shoes and it would cost $25 plus a tip for our guide/instructor. Cowboys hats recommended, not required. First step was completing a lengthy waiver where you initial and sign our life away (in the event of an accident). This was all done on iPads but the place only accepts cash. Strange.

 

horse rentals gate

 

Once we completed the legal, we each had to pay. I had my $25 ready when the lady running the show told me to step on a nearby scale. No one else had do this so far. I hated the number the scale read and apparently that means more than just shame. It would cost me $35 for the hour ride. The proprietor didn’t have to explain. It was your classic fat tax. I paid but my feelings were hurt.

 

The lady pointed out a rack of helmets in the stable, I wanted to be cool enough to turn down the optional protection and let my dope bandana do the talking but the chances of me falling off the horse seemed more than reasonable. Plus I had just signed that long contract and didn’t even try to scan any of it. I choose a large white bike helmet and strapped it on.

 

Our crew was quite large, maybe 15 riders plus two guides. They circled us up in the gate area and we were given a brief tutorial. I expected a longer speech but nope, here comes the business. A guide would match riders with a horse. You climbed a small set of stairs and hopped on. I was nearly last and feeling nervous. Then they brought my horse. Roland. He was gigantic. Like a blond Budweiser Clydesdale. And suddenly that extra $10 made total sense. I needed a large horse. Everyone else on the team was rocking mediums while I was driving Roland. Or Ro Ro as I often called him.

 

Bruno on horse

 

I joined the others at the start of the path. Roland pushed his way through my mounted buddies and found the fence. I gave a test tug on the reigns and he flared his head back like he hated it and me. Roland chomped on some grass while we waited for the last riders. Overall, there were a few large horses but mine was still the biggest and coolest. The real question was, would he listen to me?

 

Our main guide took the lead and started us down the path. The great part about being on the horse in this scenario is that they mostly follow each other and they run this path multiple times a day. So they know where they are going and they won’t do anything that would endanger themselves and by proxy, you. That being said, there was still lots of freedom on the trail. This isn’t some slow, daisy-chained nonsense. It’s you on the horse and unless you are screaming for help or under visible duress, you are on your own. You also cross the driveway, right off the main road you enter from and I still assumed my horse would run into traffic.

 

We get moving and Roland sprints through the pack and gets upfront. Second behind the guide. This is a position we would maintain for most of the ride. Not because of me, but because Roland demanded it. And it wasn’t coincidence. If another horse got ahead of us, Roland would speed up and cut them off to retake the spot. The trail was really pretty and had lots of fun details like bridges, tunnels, inclines and even one muddy descent. Roland did great and he even starting taking a few of my suggestions. I felt like we were bonding but maybe I’m just projecting. Like when a guy thinks a stripper actually likes him.

 

horse team

 

All the recent rain made for a muddy run. But every time I thought the the road looked slippery or treacherous, Roland would expertly navigate each straight. He did have a penchant for walking painfully close to the edges of drop offs and into groups of branches but I chalked that up to him teasing the new guy. It was truly an awesome experience. I felt like an warrior on my steed, racing into battle. Even if help was standing by.

 

My basic takeaway is that these horses see us as substitute teachers. They can instantly tell when you saddle up whether or not you know what you’re doing. And if they determine you are a newb then they become the boss. Examples of this in our group included some biting, some bucking and some general horseplay. But that’s what made the experience real. This wasn’t the carnival pony ride, this was legit horseback riding. It was thrilling, tons of fun and weirdly humbling. Hats off to the staff of Griffith Park Horse Rentals, they run a great operation and they helped me cross something off my bucket list. Everyone should get on a horse at least once.

 

Giddy up.

 

 


Bye Week Brunch

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Published on : November 7, 2016

 

 

When the NFL schedule is released, both players and fans look forward to certain dates. A meeting with a bitter rival, a division game or maybe the most important, the bye week. For those less familiar with the details of the NFL, the bye is the one week each team has off during the grueling 17 week long regular season. It’s a time to recover from injury, retool on offense or just generally get your head right. On a more personal level, it’s an opportunity players get to be with their families. Many go on vacation with the extra time off.

 

That’s where this story starts. All my buds knows I love football. And that eats up a lot of Sundays. My amazing lady totally respects my passion for the NFL but that’s not her cup of tea. She gives me my space and let’s me shout at the tv with full force. She has become a honorary Lions fan. Even downloaded the ESPN app so she could check the scores to see how I’d be doing and know how to approach me after the final whistle.

 

 

A few years ago, I started a new tradition. As a reward for putting up with all my sports shenanigans, I offered to take my special lady out to breakfast on the first Sunday without football. We call this, bye week brunch. No score checking or fantasy updates (unless she isn’t looking or in the bathroom). A day I devote all to her. My teammate who supports me and all my sports nonsense. We pick somewhere awesome, a place that serves Mimosas and Bloodys and is the Joe Montana of making eggs. Oh yeah, there is crab in the eggs. Crab. We get up early (for me) and make it full Sunday Funday. Just like how the players take out their families. But I’m not a top wide receiver, just an overweight writer with a fast tongue.

 

Supporting a sports team can be a fulfilling endeavor (sometimes). It can feel hyper important but never overlook the players you have supporting you on the daily basis. Your friends and family. Your team. The folks who set you up to win. Top head coaches always talk about staying with what works, well then you should thank your mom, grandpa, brother, partner, neighbor, lover, nanny, dog, whoever has your back. They are your squad and they deserve some goddamn bacon, eggs, hollandaise sauce or whatever they want!

 

Love.

 

 


Go Cubs! A Tale from 2003

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Published on : October 23, 2016

 

 

Here we are again, Cubs fans. On the verge of making history. Last time we were here was back in 2003, when the Cubbies broke a nearly hundred-year postseason loss record, and I went to the best party of my young life.

 

I was not a sports fan growing up, but I was something of a Cubs fan. I made an annual trip every August to Wrigley Field with my Grandfather. I enjoyed those afternoons, but my interest in the game never stretched beyond them. I wasn’t a scorekeeper or a stathound. I didn’t even care if they won really, because we often left during the 8th, usually on my Grandfather’s calculated risk that a cab could make Union Station in time for the express Metra train back to the suburbs. At best, I fell into the category of fair weather fan, one of the most common and reviled of sports animals.

 

That fall of ’03, I was a college freshman. One of my first assignments was to attend a screening at the Chicago International Film Festival. Back then, my cinematic tastes leaned heavily towards bullets and boobs, so I chose the least festival-y film I could find. The movie was called Kops, a Swedish comedy about local police officers that bore a passing resemblance to Super Troopers. My friend Wags agreed to go with me, and we headed to the Music Box Theatre in Wrigleyville for the show.

 

34572867608_0703-large

 

When the movie started, I was only vaguely aware that the Cubs were in a position to make history. If they won their next game — which they were playing that night, Sunday October 5th — it would be their first postseason series victory since 1908. I was only vaguely aware of this because, even as a passing Cubs fan, I knew they were perennial losers, a bedrock certainty that belonged in The Pantheon of Facts between the hilarity of The Three Stooges and Scarlett Johansson’s beauty.

 

Halfway through the movie, I heard a noise I haven’t heard in a theater before or since: a car horn. It sounded in quick gunfire bursts. Then I heard the cheering. Wags leaned over and said, “I think the Cubs just won.”

 

After the movie, we exited the theater and saw blue and white fans everywhere. We were less than a mile from Wrigley Field, and everyone seemed to be heading that direction. Which made sense after all; there was a rogue’s gallery of bars stretching along Clark Street. Wags suggested we join the fray and I agreed. He had driven us there after all, so I didn’t think I could protest too much.

 

Cubs

 

As we came upon the intersection of Clark and Addison, underneath the warm glow of the Wrigley Field neon, we found ourselves in the middle of the biggest party I had ever seen. There were people everywhere. So many they had overflowed the bars and sidewalk and crowded into the middle of the street. Cars were trafficjammed for blocks in every direction. If you weren’t cheering, it was because you were drinking. Someone had propped speakers out their second story window and were blasting “You Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC into the street. Wags ducked into a bar and returned with several open cans of Budweiser. We camouflaged them with empty McDonald’s cups and drank down a couple of Harry Caray’s favorite brew.

 

We intended to walk around but didn’t get very far. There were too many drunk idiots screaming at the top of their lungs. Too many suburban Moms and Dads wearing their weekend Cubs gear. Too many girls. It was a great time. The good feeling was infectious. We were surrounded by new old friends, all united in a winner’s high. I couldn’t tell you how long we hung out there, but I was finishing my second beer, and that’s when the cops showed up. Not Kops. Real cops.

 

img_1450

 

Like I said, this was my first real life, holy shit, I’ve-only-seen-parties-like-this-in-the-movies blowout that I had ever attended. That milestone was capped off by watching the Chicago Police break up the biggest party ever. How does that happen, you ask? On horseback, my friend. All of a sudden, there was a row of mounted cops seated above the crowd. Behind them were more officers dressed in riot gear. Falling into line, they created a blue wall that advanced forward. Pushing the crowd back onto the sidewalk where they belonged. It was a calm show of force, and it worked. I wish I could say that we started a riot and burned some shit down, but no. Nothing like that happened. Everyone was too busy have a good time. The Cubs had just broken a 95 year losing streak. No matter how down-and-out you were, nobody in Chicago felt like a loser that night.

 

The rest of it has faded from my memory, but that feeling of communal celebration is something I’ll never forget. I had done my share of cheering for the hometeam, and I had experienced the swell of an entire ballpark’s energy rise up before. But this was something else. The scale was epic. We were celebrating a moment that had already been recorded into history. Here’s hoping we can feel that way again. Go Cubs.

 

 


No Kickstands: a BMX memoir

Written by :
Published on : September 25, 2016

 

 

To quote Chief Jim Hopper on the Netflix original series Stranger Things: “bikes are like Cadillacs to these kids.” I couldn’t agree more Hop. From the time I learned to ride a bike without training wheels, till the start of high school, my BMX bike was my most prized possession. Well that and maybe my Sega Genesis. The bike represented freedom and independence. Pretty much everything Harley-Davidson owners say can be applied to kids and their bicycles. Time to grease up the bike chain and ask your mom for some slurpee money. This my story of a boy and his BMX bike.

 

My very first bike. A black and yellow Huffy with training wheels. I remember my parents talking me out of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles themed one. Their thinking being that I’d potentially grow our of my turtles phase and not like my whip anymore. Maybe they were right. We went with the black and yellow Huffy. I loved that tiny bike. I tore up the sidewalks as a little dude on that rig. I lost the training wheels around age six and never looked back.

 

training wheels

 

At 8-years-old, we moved to a new house and eventually my parents expanded the allowed territory of unsupervised bike exploration. Each following birthday saw the boarders of the zone get pushed a block or two. Soon, I had bicycle dominion over the whole neighborhood. I spent every day of summer glued to the bike. I honestly thought I was going to learn a bunch of tricks and go pro. But that dream required a proper big-kid ride which I didn’t have.

 

Without the funds for a whole new bike, I had to build my own. Part by part. I saved all my lawn mowing money with the hopes of buying a chrome dipped PK Ripper frame and forks (the skeleton of the bike) but it was still too rich for my blood. I would just stare at the bike in the store window like it was the guitar in Wayne’s World. After hearing my sob story, my elderly neighbor gifted me an old Schwinn that was buried in his garage. The bike was an antique and was not cool. But my dad encouraged me to not give up.

 

pk-ripper

 

Time for a make-over montage. I stripped down the bike and completely took everything apart. Then went steel wool crazy on the rust and old paint on the frame. Fresh paint and new rims and tires and it started to look like a vehicle again. But I still needed lots of little pieces and I was broke after the new wheels. So I did what most kids did. I stole.

 

A crew of us would go into the bike shop and I’d fill my pockets with whatever I needed/could get my hands on. I stole pedals, pegs, brake handles, grips, whatever. Before you call the cops or cop an attitude, let me say in my defense that the store we took from was run by a total asshole. Who would routinely hire thug older kids to steal bikes from young customers and resell the stolen goods. So if anything, I’m Robin Hood.

 

My frankencycle was now complete. It was solid matte black with silver pegs and handle bars. No kickstand. It looked like the Batmobile and I cherished it. Now I could finally get serious about the sport of BMX. But a strange thing happened, I wasn’t instantly amazing. It didn’t make sense. I had the perfect bike, the will of a champion and a chain wallet. What was I missing? Why was I always falling? And getting hurt?

 

BMX crash

 

Undeterred, I kept practicing. More curbs, rails and stairs. And with that, more cuts, scabs and tears. I want to say I was getting better but I really don’t think so. I couldn’t tail whip, bar spin or consistently land any legit tricks. Hell, I could barely bunny hop. Then, one afternoon, my whole BMX career changed forever.

 

I was pedaling down the sidewalks towards an intersection. The signal just flipped from the “walk” dude to the blinking “don’t walk” hand. Meanwhile, a green sedan approaches the intersection from a perpendicular street. It accelerates into a right turn at red light, just as I make my way into the cross walk. The bumper of the car plows into my front tire. Thankfully, I’m thrown forward unlike my bike which crumbles under the car as it screeches to a halt.

 

My knee scrapped so hard along the blacktop that it rubbed through my jeans and left pieces of gravel embedded in my skin. Total pink, bloody road rash. I was majorly shook up. The driver, a middle aged women, gets out and helps me up, she then frees the wreckage that was my prized BMX from under her shitty Ford Taurus. She tells me she is going to call the police on her car phone. In a daze, I watch as she gets in her car and drives away.

 

1993-Ford-Taurus

 

I drag my bike home two blocks and my parents naturally freak out. They call the cops (for real this time) and we file a report but no luck in finding the driver. Next time that happens, I know now to get the license plate number. I was devastated about the loss of my bike. But secretly, it was a godsend. I now had a great reason to stop pretending I was Dave Mirra and I could let BMX go. Without looking like a quitter. It was exactly what I needed.

 

Don’t get me wrong, that lady fucking sucks and I hope she has nightmares about what she did to me. But also thank you. Because BMX might have killed me if I didn’t stop.

 

Helmet.

 

 

 


A Goat Broke my Ankles

Written by :
Published on : September 8, 2016

 

 

A farm animal faked me out. Totally broke my ankles. I’m not proud of it but it’s true and it happened. Let me set the scene so you can really appreciate the beauty of this story. The greatest-of-all-time goat. That’s right, the G.O.A.T of goats. It was way back in 2005, I was a film school sophomore in Chicago. My roommate invited me to California for the summer to visit his family. I declined because I was too broke but my buddy had a hook. His mom was running an event and needed extra help. We could go work for a few days and that would pay for the rest of the trip. I was in.

 

The event was the Solano county fair in Vallejo, California. Those who don’t know Solano, it’s the stretch of land wedged between San Fransisco and Sacramento. All I knew about Vallejo was that it was home to rapper E-40 and at least three of the Zodiac Killer murders. Or wine country. Whatever. We flew west and made our way to the fair where we would stay in an RV on the grounds. Working a carnival, living in a trailer. I was 20-years-old and it was my first day as a carny.

 

E-40
Rapper E-40

 

My buddy got some cushy indoor gig running the vendors hall. I got stuck with security. But it was cool. They gave you a walkie-talkie and access to the golf carts. Plus a hat and a few t-shirts. Everyone loves free shirts. Stationed at the “director’s gate,” my main job was to let in the fair directors with their gold parking pass. This was the VIP access. And no one got past me and my cones unless you had the proper credentials. Until that hooved bastard shit on my integrity.

 

This is how it all went down. I was diligently guarding my cones when I got a chirp on the walkie. “Attention director’s gate, there is a loose goat headed in your direction, don’t let it leave.” Before I could respond, I looked down the path and saw something coming towards me. I focused my eyes in the bright sun and saw these horns barreling down the asphalt. Running for its life. I’ve never seen an animal move so quick. It was the Usain Bolt of goats. Usain Goat, if you will.

 

Austria Weather

 

Now, growing up in Detroit, I didn’t have a lot of hands-on goat training. Or any farm handling skills. So I had no clue what to do. The goat was almost on me. I got in the middle of the road, bent my knees and stretched my arms out. Trying to occupy as much space as possible. Thinking I could stop the beast and turn it back to wherever it came from. Wrong.

 

It dashed to my right side. I collapsed hard to meet it but it spun beautifully back to the left. Like classic Barry Sanders bouncing a run away from the linebackers and into open space. I tried to recover but as I lunged, the goat faked again and I fell on my ass, holding air. The goat ran free into general admission parking.

 

barry-sanders fake out

 

I sat there, defeated. I couldn’t even attempt standing because, you know, the goat broke my ankles. Just then, a pair of pickup trucks full of 4H cowboys pull up. And I mean, full-on cowboy hats, boots, belts, buckles, the full nine. They look at me and I just point the direction the goat went. Now this part, I can’t remember if it’s what really happened or just how I felt at the time but I’m pretty sure they all shook their heads in disgust as they cruised by.

 

Thinking back, fuck those 4H dicks, they are the ones who let their prized goat get away. It’s not my fault. Also, I never went full game speed, at least that’s what I tell myself. I didn’t want to hurt it. But honestly, I never had a chance. The goat wanted freedom, I wanted to not be fired. One of us was working harder. I can acknowledge now, that the goat, was one of my greatest athletic opponents. And cheers to that. We all need goats in our life, to push us and make us better.

 

Juked me baddddddd!

 

 


Track Marks: A high school Track and Field memoir

Written by :
Published on : August 25, 2016

 

 

The 2016 Olympic Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro were a blast and it got me thinking about my old glory days as a high school track star. Well, maybe star is a bit of a reach but I was on the varsity team for all four years of high school and in that time I competed in every single event of both track and field. I won medals, broke a school record and even went to the state championship but I’m not here to brag, I’m here to take a trip down memory lane and look back at a sport that used to be a big part of my life.

 

Growing up, soccer was my sport of choice. I loved it. I played indoor during the winter and went to camps in the summer, all in an effort to make varsity some day and get on the pitch with the big kids. Unfortunately, I was an average soccer player. No real natural talent but sound fundamentals and better conditioning made me effective. I knew I had to stay in shape to get any playing time so I started running track in the spring of freshman year. It should be known that the soccer coach was also the track coach, so running track was a good way to earn brownie points.

 

 

That first year, coach didn’t really know where to put me so I tried lots of different events. Our team only had one real hurdler so I started training in the 110m and the 300m hurdles until I fell enough times that it was clear that this wasn’t my thing. Next, I did the long distance events. The mile and two mile runs, but I really didn’t like those. I got bored and would lose focus. Next came the sprints. I was much too slow out of the blocks for the 100m or the 200m dashes but in the 400m, I had enough time to catch up to the quicker kids and let my endurance win me a few races. I finally found my home.

 

Now, if you don’t know, the 400m is the worst. It’s technically a sprint but it’s a full lap of the track. That’s a quarter mile. Sprint. It’s brutal. After every serious contest I had in the 400m, I would throw up. It almost always happened. My body was in such shock. I’d post a solid time then wander behind some bushes or puke on the infield. I’d aim for the end zones if the football field lines were still painted. Touchdown.

 

The 400m was my jam, but you can be in up to four events at a single track meet so I had to fill the rest of my dance card. Naturally, I also competed in the 4x400m relay. Leaving my coach two spots to throw me wherever he saw fit.

 

High-Jump rig

 

Now is as good of a time as any to explain that I went to a really small school. Class D, Division 4. It was a strange place that is somehow both half hippy art school and half college prep. It’s a non-religious, private K-12 located in the northern suburbs of Detroit. Most of the schools we played against were rich christian private schools. So there were times at track meets where the competition was very light in certain events and that’s where coach would put me.

 

This strategy found me in long jump, shot put, discus, and even high jump. I’m just glad we didn’t have pole vault or else I’m sure they would have made me try that too. But this little tricked worked. I’d place in the event and earn a few extra points to help the team win the meet. The season would end with the league meet where we square off against all the other schools in our area. This was our big race of the year. After that, the few stand out runners would continue on to regionals and maybe even states in individual events. We never had enough qualifying athletes make to make run at a state championship for the school.

 

long jump

 

I stuck with track sophomore and junior years. I got better and faster. Hit the weight room and really saw progress in all my events. We’d go to tournaments after a long bus rides and I’d come home with a few medals. I never won like that in anything else. It was pretty great feeling. End of junior year, we had a nasty 4x400m relay team that rolled into the league meet and took first by a wide margin. Our time earned us a place in regionals where we kept it rolling and qualified for the state championship.

 

The state meet is on a weekend, like most big track and field events. The reason is because it takes forever and they need to start early. I’m talking like 8-10 hours long. It was also kind of far away so our team had to drive out the night before and stay in a hotel. Like a real NBA star. Friday night we went out for steaks and Saturday morning we rolled to the meet blasting Eye of the Tiger. We warmed up. We felt good. No nerves. Our relay team had clean hand offs and we all posted our best personal times but we didn’t even place.

 

baton handoff

 

I wasn’t mad, neither were my teammates or the coach. We all ran the fastest we have ever had and performed well as a crew but we came up short of being best in the state. Hell, I never thought I’d get that far. How could we be mad? Later we found out that we broke our school’s record for the 4x400m relay which was a perfect end to that chapter.

 

My senior year, I was named captain of the team and we were all looking forward to keeping our league championship streak alive. As the season and school year came to an end, my enthusiasm for track was waning. I decided to tell my coach that after the league meet, I didn’t want to pursue the individual events at the later tournaments. They were all on weekends in far off places and I wanted to go to graduation parties and find a girl that would let me get to second base. My coach unfortunately did not understand. He told me if I wanted to quit that I should do it now. I countered and explained that the league meet was important to me because that was the team’s big day but he couldn’t hear it. He asked for my uniform and told me to leave. I guess he wanted to wear those short shorts of mine in private.

 

The next day, coach told the team that I quit. They ended up losing the league meet too. First time in six years. It was maybe an ugly breakup but I dug my time in track and field. It treated me well. I was more successful in that sport than anything else. It used to bum me out that track was the thing I was good at when I loved so many other sports more but I’ve moved on from that. Now, I’m just grateful that I went out and gave it my all with my friends by my side.

 

Spikes.

 

 


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