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Monthly Archives: June 2008

I can’t have enough blogs to ignore, I say. Now I am also at…this concoction. But that hardly means this is dead. This just means I’m at home and delusional. I predict a little more drunkenness and self-absorption over there, especially since I am likely at work.

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Some of my friends work in fabulous industries where going to parties all the time isn’t just a perk, it’s part of the job, whether it’s being seen, being the coordinator, or just registering people at the door, parties are par for the course.

Not this kid.

Our company is so cheap, they feel it’s better to put on a summer “staff party” than a traditional holiday party. Right, because they care. Anyway, because the firm had a really, really good year (Hooray for corporate scandal and internal investigations!) us peons got the annual part-tay stepped up.

So the other day found us at Cipriani 23. For those of you who are not quite up on these things, it is the latest crown jewel in the Cipriani empire. The place is pretty nice and swanky, it radiates an air of class straight out of the Gilded Age. In other words, it makes the banquet hall where your cousin had her wedding look like an International House of Pancakes.

 

The food was plentiful and tasty, but impressively light. I mean, I ate constantly and consistently but did not ever get that “Oh God, my intestines just split” feeling that you get at say, Old Country Buffet. The cold seafood buffet was quality. Not a false note, I have to say. One of these days, when I make my millions from self-help book “So You Think You Got Problems?!” (with co-author Garden Salad Joe) and my nightly talk show “This Is What I Got To Say”, I may even have a dinner there.

More importantly (to me, and to your alcoholic heart), nothing says class like a place where you don’t have to ask for top-shelf liquor. That’s right, no Well Whiskey Fridays here, my friend. Gin and tonic meant Bombay Sapphire and Tonic. Automatically. Which is why the probably why the bartenders could barely hide their sneering at mail-room guys who asked for Grey Goose by name. As if they would give you Georgi without telling you. What do you think this, a club?

Well, some guys did think it was a club. On the dance floor, one guy was giving my poor female co-worker the old “I’m going to lean in really close to your ear, pretend to engage you in real conversation, and then bam! I seductively proposition you with something like, ‘You look good in that dress, but I’ll bet you don’t need it!’ or ‘So, you wanna go upstairs to the balcony and do a l’il sumthin’ sumthin’?’ ” I’ve never seen her sprint so fast. Unbelievable.

All in all, it was a great venue and a great setting, and if you’ve got mad cash around, it’s a great place to have a party. Until I write my book, I’ll be continue to get my swank on at the San Loco on North 4th in Williamsburg, where they take care of you too, but you have to request the Goose by name. Someday Cipriani 23 (or its other fabulous locations), we will meet again.

 

 

Well, I was in denial for a long time, much like David Stern. But the signs are too apparent. But you knew that already.

Actually, I’m not sure I really believe Tim Donaghy a bit. After all, he is a convicted felon trying to get his sentence reduced, and I actually feel like if this kind of league-wide conspiracy was going on, it would have been exposed already. There are too many people involved, too much money is at stake, and quite frankly, too many sports reporters out there who would eventually get the dirt. That an league fixes its matches through the referees? The reporter(s) who broke that would be the Woodward and Bernstein of sports, journalistic legends. Think that doesn’t beat sitting around and screaming on “Around The Horn?”

What this really points out is that David Stern’s failure to take the perception of his league’s refereeing and it’s actual refereeing seriously has finally come back to bite him in the ass. I mean NBA diehards pretty openly say stuff like, “I’m sure they’ll extend the series by putting Bennett Salvatore on the case” and then he actually shows up for Game 3 of the finals, and then the Lakers get the free throws they need in order to stay alive. Stern simply brushes this off. Hopefully the attention Donaghy received will make him finally rethink that.

One of the reasons I kind of have lost full-time interest in NBA basketball is that in just too many NBA games, I feel like the refereeing was a deciding factor in the game. This should be unacceptable for any sport with integrity, but that’s just the way it is in the NBA. And its accepted by fans, but it’s kind of hard for others to take you seriously. I’ve been into this Finals series partly because I’m not worried that the league will favor one of these teams to win the title, they’re good either way. Not like 2006, where I felt like the league was out to create a new star in Dwyane Wade, and so he seemed to get the benefit of every call possible.

And I know these games aren’t fixed. It’s too impossible. But the fact that I walk away convinced is problem enough. It’s time for the NBA to get serious about making its referees invisible, they way they’re supposed to be. A plan that puts in place, the consistent calling of fouls no matter the crowd, the team, the style of play, who’s handling the ball, and how much time is left on the clock. If David Stern had been trying to get that in place instead of simply pooh-poohing and laughing off the conspiracy crowd, people wouldn’t be taking a convicted felon so seriously. Until Stern and his league takes these steps toward taking the integrity of the sport seriously, I’ll keep saying it:

Look, I’m not saying the NBA is fixed. But the NBA is fixed.

 

Well, the first sign of age has come to Well Whiskey Friday…namely, I was walking up Third Avenue on my way to work Monday morning when, all of a sudden, my back muscles, apparently, tired of carrying my slouching body, screamed out in pain and left me walking around pretty gingerly for the rest of the day.

The only way for my back not to hurt at this point is to walk straight, with my shoulders pinned back. 

I suppose in some sense, that’s a good thing, because slouching sends the wrong message to society and kind of negates any advantages you get from lifting weights looks-wise. On the other hand, I am not used to walking straight all the time, so I don’t do it all the time. Hence, I have spent most nights this week holed up in my bedroom with the AC on. 

So, is this a sign of aging, or has my back decided to take over my body in order for me to straighten up and fly right? Maybe next it’ll force me to sit still long enough to think about my future. Or come up with useful ways to get dates. My back appears to be an ambitious and motivated creature.

Ow! Caught slouching again….

 

Just a reminder, employers: The worst thing you can do to make sure someone who is not doing what they want to do with their life actually starts thinking of ways to get out is forget to pay them. I’m sure there’s a legitimate reason for the delay, but still. You can’t have that. No matter how hard someone works for you, if they don’t feel like they’re helping people, or having fun adventures, or being fulfilled on some level, the quickest way to disgruntled them is for them to not get paid when they’re supposed to.

That’s generally when a soul-sucking realization that they’re here strictly for the paycheck kicks and suddenly, maybe, just maybe, they ‘ll get serious again about waht they really want to do and how to make that happen.

So, unless you’re in an industry where you know people love being in it, and those are very few and far between, make sure your people get paid. It’s not the world’s most elegant motivational technique, but it works.

The more you know….

 

 

Normally, whenever I do write about the NBA, it’s often because I end the season in some sort of anger. I refer you to my old post, “F— You and Your League, David Stern.” My big problem with the NBA is that more than any other sport, the referees really determine the outcome of way too many games. Officiating at its best is supposed to be invisible, but in this sport, it’s too often center stage. I concede that this may be the most difficult sport to referee. That being said, it doesn’t matter what the most difficult kind of surgery is, its difficulty does not mean incompetence is tolerated by damaged patients and relatives of the deceased. But it’s accepted as a fact of life, and it really shouldn’t.

That why I always say, “I’m not saying the NBA is fixed, but the NBA is fixed.”

This year, David Stern outdid himself by strong-arming the Timberwolves into making the Kevin Garnett trade and allowing Mitch Kupchak to rip Pau Gasol from the Grizzlies at gunpoint. And here we are, a rivalry renewed, taking me back to when I was an innocent child, and I really believed that the outcomes of NBA games were decided by the players. So I’ll half-skeptically, half-nostalgically enjoy the NBA Finals.

But who to root for? As kids, because we had no cable and the Knicks were ass anyway (much like today), you eventually decided to get behind the Celtics or the Lakers. Others have written about the deep philosophical divides that the two teams represented, and their stark contrasts. Both were great teams with great players. I guess I tended to root for the Lakers because they ran more, I liked their uniforms, and I was beginning to form my natural New York hatred for all sports things Boston. Plus, the Celtics had that weird floor.

But what about now? Really, I should root for neither. I hate the Lakers now in my adulthood, what with their uncanny ability to acquire championship-caliber big men for nothing, and of course, you gotta hate Kobe. I didn’t care for him pre-Colorado, and his rape trial pretty much just made it easier. I don’t think he’s a rapist, but he’s clearly got some sort of social ineptitude borne of entitlement thing going, the kind I can see leading to a bad, uncomfortable encounter, which at minimum I think, is what kind of happened in that situation. Even now, as a playing as a better teammate and facilitator, he still seems kind of robotic and phony.

But the Celtics? Let’s just say I was so sick of Boston sports teams winning that I was happy when the Giants won the Super Bowl. I’ve never been happy to see them win a stinking preseason game, being a Jet fan and all, but I was overjoyed at the fact that it was a New York team that took down the previously undefeated Patriots. With all the Boston/New England fans around these parts, I’m not sure I’m ready to see them win another championship just yet.

What to do? Root for a classic series unmarred by referees’ calls, where basketball shows the best of itself and reminds me why I really used to love the NBA in the first place?

Sure I could do that, but I gotta get my hate on to watch this matchup. Boston hasn’t been good since Larry Bird retired, so I think my hate is stronger with the Lakers. After all, Kobe would get his first championship without Shaq, and the Jordan comparisons might begin. You throw in the celebrities on the LA side (I’m sure ABC won’t overdo it at all), and the fact that most Boston fans will probably go back to worrying about David Ortiz’ exploded wrist as soon as the finals are over, and the fact that’ll it’ll probably take the Celtics at least 6 or 7 games to win it, and I do like Kevin Garnett.

I’m actually kinda pulling for the Celtics. Wow. 24 years changes a lot, doesn’t it? 

Well, with this “Democratic primary” business just about over (Sorry Bill, not trying to push Hillary out, it’s up to her, right? Right.), we can finally get to what has to be the most under-reported story of our generation. While people focus on such nonsense as skyrocketing oil prices, the economic slowdown (like President Bush, “recession” is not in my vocabulary), the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (not Afghanistan so much…hey, is bin Laden still even wanted? What’s the bounty down to? An American flag t-shirt and a bag of Doritos?), and the presidential election, something big is going on in Cook County, Illinois, and it’s getting no coverage, as our nation’s media falls asleep at the wheel once again.

The R. Kelly trial is already underway, y’all!

I didn’t even know it had started! Larry King is wasting my time with primary coverage and American Idols, when a sex tape was shown on the first day of court! Where’s the gavel to gavel coverage? Where’s Gerry Spence and his buckskin jackets? Where’s Jeffrey Toobin? There’s an University of Chicago law professor that should be rocketing to stardom with his or her detailed analysis of Kelly’s “defense”!

I’m not a lawyer, but I count their money for tax purposes. Therefore I am qualified to sum up the “defense” so far:

That’s not R. Kelly on the tape, and that’s not an underage girl. That’s right. Sure, the guy looks exactly like R. Kelly, but it’s not R. Kelly. A disgruntled female protege of R. Kelly’s named Sparkle, using hours of extra video footage that happened to be lying around, used digital technology, like the realistic-looking effects in the Wayans Brothers smash hit “Little Man“, top graft Kelly’s face and her underage friend on to the bodies of two random people who had no trouble doing the nasty and engaging in water sports in front of a video camera.

That is mostly not made up! Wow…and you thought O.J. and the gloves was a flight of fancy!

Well, I don’t know about you, but I have to admonish the media for not giving this trial the attention it deserves. I mean, sure, all that other stuff actually affects our lives, and the world and future that we’re facing, but…when di  the media start caring about that. There haven’t even been calls of moral outrage against Kelly to get his songs off the radio!

For shame, America, its gatekeepers of information, and it’s useless moral arbiters. Are we growing up or something? What’s next, an embrace of thoughtfulness and intellectualism? Tsk, tsk.

 

Well, I didn’t think there would be much of a weekend recap, but seeing as how I missed a visit to the parents and this week’s Triviotic recovering from this weekend’s activities, I guess a belated one is in order.

First and foremost, I went into this weekend broke, as I overspent on Memorial Day weekend. Since it was the weekend after, and I was still weary from some the previous weekend’s shenanigans, I thought it would be a good time to take a break and go underground.

As pencil magnate and college football analyst Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast, my friend.”

First, I had forgotten that Friday was Midwesterner’sbirthday and that he was throwing down at Barcade. Since Barcade is within walking distance of my house, it would have been inexcusable not to at least show up. Essentially sober for the evening, I managed to have a very good time (believe it or not, some us of CAN do it), and watch the birthday boy, among others, get drunk.

I got home at a reasonable hour and thought I would be hunkering down Saturday night to watch the Yankees game and the network premiere of Kimbo Slice. Little did I know that I would draw a Community Chest card saying “Bank Error in your Favor. Please collect $40, advance to nearest railroad.” Okay, not precisely what happened. Alice magically found $40 that she owed me from October if I came out to drink with her and the boys in Park Slope. Well, How could I turn that down? Sure you were denied a running diary about my first serious attempt to watch mixed martial arts, featuring such gems as:

“What’s the deal with all the dudes in scissor positions rolling around on the ground? Seems kind of gay.”

“These female MMA fighters aren’t that hot, but somehow, it’s kinda really hot.”

Instead, we went to a couple of bars and then ended up hanging out at Alice’s to six in the morning. We raided the liquor and among what we found…absinthe. Appropriately named lucid, this left my one of my pals wide awake at six in the morning. I was in decent shape as well, having both woken up late and only drinking mimosas at Alice’s (mitigating the scotch and beer-fest earlier in the evening.). That’s when he was like, let’s hang out on my roof deck and watch the morning over New York! The fact that I thought this was a good idea tells you how drunk I was.

This is the friend that lives in The Greatest Apartment Building Ever.

Soon enough we were on his roof deck, drinking absinthe, enjoying the sun, and having a rather deep conversation about the nature of friendship and its ups and downs. We recently had a dispute when I thought he was pulling a practical joke and he was serious. Let’s just say the end result was people in Point Pleasant, N.J. with nowhere to go. There are a lot worse places to be with nowhere to go, but still. We hashed it out and the morning was quality time well spent. Well, until he couldn’t stay up anymore.

He said he was coming right back, but like a regrettable one-night stand, he had abandoned me. He went into his apartment and never came back. So this fool left me on the roof, with a bottle of absinthe and a glass, ans a beautiful Sunday morning. So I listened to my iPod, took my shirt off, meditated a little…and then passed out.

I woke up to discover that it was 4:30 pm, and there was a little party on the roof. And the residents partying had apparently, kept a little watch over me, this shirtless stranger. They were all relieved to see me finally wake up; it sort of took the party to another level. “He’s alive!” one female exclaimed. Well, I’m sure they held up a mirror under my nose to make sure things were cool.

“Now that you’re awake, you should come party with us,” another told me. Sure. If by party you mean, “stand around in stunned disbelief about the events of the past twenty-four hours and get your bearings.” I partied with them a little, but eventually, I had to put my shirt on and leave. Well, it’s nice to know that even when I am a completely passed out stranger in the middle of your building, I’m still considered friendly, charming, and someone you want to have around. Or the gym must really be paying off even more than I realize.

But did I go straight home? Of course not. Continuing our newest tradition, my roommate and I hit up the Turkey’s Nest in Williamsburg. When ever the Mets and/or Yankees are on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, it’s now a Nest Night. Although I suspect we might be expanding that group in an excuse to head for the neighborhood’s most wonderfully rowdy bar. I hates me some Red Sox, Angels, and Braves, but somehow that may be mitigated during the summertime and crowd of rowdy kickballers that frequent the joint. Oh, let’s throw the Diamondbacks in there. Not a fan.

But even before that, my favorite summer tradition went down: running into Garden Salad Joe at McCarren Park. It’s not officially summer until I see Joe hanging with his “better” friends at the park. It’s like, Now I know. Summer’s here. For me, this was the official kickoff. You know, last week I was wondering if the group’s wild ride might be over. It still might be. But once again, I realized, for me, the ride is probably not going to end anytime soon. Not with all the random people I know, and the random amounts of money I’m clearly owed, and my ability to win over and charm people even when I’m essentially a sleeping and homeless bum. …so, you don’t stop. Sometimes, you just have to embrace the madness.