Cheers to Changes

31 08 2007

Sorry for the day-hiatus, you loyal dozens. I spent the last 33 hours taping up my life in cardboard, lifting those consolidated life-fragments into a U-Haul truck, driving to Pennsylvania with Tay, then sleeping for 2.something hours, then driving to New York, where our lives — still in boxes — have taken a new and exciting shape in a Lower East Side apartment that might have fit into the U-Haul. This thing will be up and running again shortly, full of overwrought analyses and disturbing clips.

But I’ll share this anecdote for right now, courtesy of Lynn Scheitrum.

My mom was a cheerleader in high school — a strange enough thought, given the role that cheerleaders have played in my life. But, yeah, cheerleader. Pom-pons. Rip-curl bangs. And so on.

She cheered for Bridgewater-Raritan High, whose initials were embroidered into the wool-derivative cheerleading uniforms. BR, right over the heart.

So anyway, the high school split into two — East and West — when she was an upperclassman. Such a change required, of course, a new high school, a new teaching staff and, among other things, new uniforms for both men’s and women’s sports teams, contemporary with Title IX.

But administrative ingenuity invaded. The people in charge of the uniforms, acknowledging cheerleaders in the same way that men do now — which is to say, with some curiosity but little professional regard — saw that, because of the placement of the BR, they could adapt the old uniforms to reflect the changes. By adding the location of the school, West or East, next to the BR, they solved this conundrum.

So my mom’s uniform, re-embroidered, read “BRWEST.”

The same standard held for the other school, designated by EAST. Spell it out.


Gino the Ginny’s Guide to Da Clubz

29 08 2007

If you were considering a trip to Hunka Bunka this weekend, Gino urges you to reconsider.

No need to watch past about the 2nd minute, unless you happen to enjoy Gino’s moves.

Fear and Rolling in West Hartford

28 08 2007

This is one of my favorite anecdotes, reprinted without the permission of the Daily Free Press. I’m bringing it back for reasons dual: 1 – Tonight’s not the night for posting, in that I’m getting life ready for New York. 2 – It’s important to know how to roll out of cars to avoid being robbed or otherwise torn by stabby things. So please forgive the awkward freshman phrasing, and have at it.

From March 15, 2004

“Fear and Rolling in West Hartford”

The term belies reality. “Tuck and roll,” the evasive maneuver of choice for cowboys and Jedi alike, gets the first part right. You do, indeed, tuck. But when you hit asphalt at 35 miles per hour, you don’t roll.

You skip.

You skip like a pebble flung across water. One long leap, then successive bounces of descending size, until your body loses enough momentum and skin to scale your moves down to the roll. The roll is the goal. The skip is the reality.

It was almost exactly one moment after the fifth roll ended, the smell of asphalt all too fresh in my nose, my eyes filled with the sight of two red lights turning left and the right back door hanging off the car like a dog’s ear.

Exactly half a moment after I got off the phone with my friend, the other beat writer, who was left at the Mobil with obviously not stain-defending pants and a dollar in hand.

Where the hell was this in the job description?

I guess it’s important to start off from the beginning. I was the Boston University women’s basketball beat writer for The Daily Free Press. All year long, the other beat writer, Matt Stout, wrote about every turn in the women’s rollercoaster, which led them to the America East Tournament in Hartford, Conn.

So, I cut short my Spring Break in Allentown, Penn. in favor of trips to the University of Hartford’s Chase Family Arena. Stout lives in East Haven, 45 minutes from Hartford, so he offered to shack me up for the weekend.

Saturday, as we didn’t have a car to use, we bought a pair of round-trip train tickets for the scenic New Haven-to-Hartford-and-back swing.

The game’s at 4 p.m. Our train leaves at 1 p.m. So we get there at 2 p.m., after a cab ride to the arena and ride on the gravy train at the Media Hospitality (sandwich and cookie and Coke) room.

We stay late to send the story. Our train leaves to go home at 8 p.m. And we had forgotten to call cabs to get us to the station. Meanwhile, the University of Hartford campus, emptied by Spring Break, is barren.

So, we resort to the last thing. Asking strangers for a ride. At 18, I disregarded my mom’s advice.

We found a suitable ride, which is to say it was the first one that passed. One of those mid-90s Accords, painted that mid-90s burgundy color. Inside, the driver was practically lying down in his seat. I think his head might’ve been on my lap.

But, anyway, these two guys – the driver looked like Snoop Dogg – assure us they know where the train station is, so we hand them over a 20 after they had wondered about our willingness to be “straight up” with them. We were.

Five minutes later, they pull into a Mobil station. It’s 7:47. 13 minutes. Stout’s freaking out. I’m laughing. I am also an idiot.

“Uh, guys, we’re kind of in a hurry,” Stout pleads.

“Yeah,” replied the passenger who was a bit larger than the driver but not altogether large. Or eloquent. But they were crafty.

He gave Stouty a dollar to buy a drink at the Mobil. Stout looked at me. I assured him it was cool. The faster he picks up a bottle of Coke, the faster we can get back to East Haven.

And the faster they pull out of the lot. And the faster that Mock Dogg’s dawg could tell me that I wasn’t “going to no train stop.”

“Give me all your money,” he suggested, in a tone that seemed serious. I did momentarily question the seriousness of the statement, entertaining the idea that my America East press pass would strike fear in the hearts of evildoers. He assured me that he was earnest. I then decided leaving the car would be the best option.

He disagreed. And told silent Snoop to lock the doors and step on it, as “he’s trying to get out.” He understood! He also understood that the $20 I gave him was not all I had in my wallet.

“I know that’s not all you have, man,” he said to me. Turning to the driver, he told him to “take him to [Keeney] park.” Well, having eaten already, I was not for the idea of joining in their late-night picnic. Frankly, I was so against it that I decided to leave their party without saying goodbye.

I flipped the lock and flung open the door. Hitting the pavement and bounding, I think I thought of how cool it was, how Charles Bronson might have done the same thing before running to catch up with the car and throwing it into a river. Then the rolling stopped. Only scrapes and cuts. Success! Wallet and cell phone in pocket. Success! Stout’s bag on the street and my bag in the car. Ah.

A sweet lady picked me up and drove me to get Stout at the Mobil. You should’ve seen his face. Whiter than the neon sign. With the dollar in his hand. Technically, he robbed them. Got my back.

Two hours later, after going to the police station, where I was alerted to the fact that Hartford is the number-one city for murder in Connecticut, we were on a Peter Pan bus home.

Maybe there’s a moral here. Maybe there’s not. But if there is, it’s not ‘don’t get in cars with strangers.’ It’s ‘watch more action movies.’

A different track

28 08 2007

To make up for the post before, here’s something to balance it out.

Thanks to Mr. Jason Factor, who should be raising money for the baseball team instead of finding this:

Wikifitti, Pt. II

28 08 2007

This response comes from one of the finest and most entertaining minds in the BU Class of 2007 — albeit a mind that speaks with a Charles-River-thick Boston accent…Steve Macone.

Altoid319 (8:43:28 AM): it’s a good point [about Wikifitti], but do you really want to destroy the notion of the fact? I dont think you do, really, down deep.
Altoid319 (8:45:01 AM): is it that the idea of wikifitti is a sort of lesser evil, a more benign way of reminding us that much of what we read on wikipedia is false. It’s a lot more fun, and doesnt feel as horrible, to find that we are reading something that is one big joke than to read an entry that is one big PR campaign..

That prompt brings us to EPISTEMOLOGY HOUR, sponsored by questions like these and art like this (thanks to Mr. Matthew Rosazza):


May I suggest a tall glass of whisky and perhaps the accompaniment of the vinyl version of the seminal masterpiece, ‘Girlfriend,’ by Avril Lavigne.
Firstly, I don’t want to destroy the notion of fact. Because the notion of fact, not the reality of fact, is our sherpa in life. The pursuit of truth and the hope that such a damn thing exists keeps us from plummetting too far into an existential fog. Without the assumption of truth, there’s nothing to hang onto. We need some pillars around which to wrap our lives. But, Voltaire said (right, Voltaire?), if God did not exist, it would be necessary to create one. Same goes with truth. If you’re trying to keep afloat, anything that floats will do, not just life jackets. You can settle for what works.

So, to get along, we don’t need facts themselves. Rather, we need to accept things as facts, to buy into something. People claim this willingness to accept anything is a generational thing, that we’re a less educated and less discerning group than those before us. It’s not. We have adapted. We’re required to be a bit less discerning, more individualized, more able to buzz through decisions. We’ve become a world so inundated by facts — 24-hour news networks, seamlessly updated news sites, good blogs and terrible blogs (like this one) — that you almost have to make flash decisions on the validity of facts, leading to a number of fun things, like the public acceptance of Restless Leg Syndrome.

But if the truth’s out there, it takes a lot of work to find it. Accepting truths without reflection leads to things like diving headfirst into a Middle Eastern prairie that absolutely, doubtlessly, you’re-goddamn-rightedly has Weapons of Mass Destruction. Or thinking that American beer is just Bud, Miller or Coors. Or that we’re disaffected and passionless. Never let anybody older tell you we’re disaffected and passionless.

That’s why I love the idea of Wikifitti. It mocks things purported to be the truth. These entries are, in essence, collections of simple stories. Strung-together anecdotes whose writing tends to trip on itself. Wikipedia doesn’t offer biographies; it offers glimpses. Granted, these are stories told by a number of writers (kind of like the Bible), so they’re perhaps less biased. But they’re stories nonetheless. And stories are selected facts. A story isn’t everything that happened, Hemingway said, it’s everything important.

But how do we choose what’s important? If we write our life stories, how would we do it? Would peeing your pants be included? How about getting cut from teams, turned down for dances and dates, blasted by acne, embarrassed on the field, etc.? Or would we be heroes and pick what’s relevant to our final goal, the theme of the piece — a process that ends up in embellishment. And if you care enough to post something on Wikipedia, you care enough to make it yours, to own a piece of literature (and thus enough to embellish it). Wikifitti is a battle against that. By undermining pages, it reveals the editorial process that these writers go through…which is, in essence, a keyboard and mouse (at least at first). It forces people to re-think how quickly they accept facts.

So enjoy the e-vandalism. It keeps us grounded. On guard. Vigilant against the unexamined acceptance of truths, and heading toward something higher. Don’t hang onto the floating logs too long that they keep you from swimming ashore (the ultimate goal, right?).

That metaphor sucked. My apologies. Blame the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company.


27 08 2007

Would you rather so closely resemble a rock star in his prime that it brings you into bed with any number of women, some of them the most attractive you’ve ever met, or be the actual rock star, 20 years later, talking to a VH1 camera and knowing you did something? Would illegitimate children for the rock star + 20 sway your decision? And if you pick the fake rock star, keep in mind that you have to spend your life in an office, selling insurance. Not terribly well, either.


26 08 2007

I’d been hearing a lot about this, and I just thought I’d share this simple testimony to young love. 

Gimme a chicken sandwich.

and some waffle fries.